Interpersonal Communication in the Workplace: Are You Doing It Right?

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TalkMost people can text, tweet, and fire off emails practically in their sleep. In fact, one in four people spend more time socializing online than in person. What does this mean for our in-person communication skills — especially at work?

Allen Webster, author of Applied Statistics for Business and Economics, says, “Without communication and the team effort it permits, the successful completion of any important project can be jeopardized.”

Given the importance of interpersonal communication in the workplace — and the rise of digital interactions — it’s important to what kind of communicators your candidates are beforeyou bring them aboard. Here are some personality types that all offices should keep an eye on:

The Passive-Aggressive Communicator 

Passive-aggressiveness is easy to conceal — and it’s one of the most toxic personality traits in the workplace. Everyday Health provides a list of passive-aggressive personality traits:

  • a fear of authoritative figures;
  • a tendency to beat around the bush;
  • a tendency to blame others for unreasonable situations;
  • a tendency to tell managers what they want to hear, rather the truth;
  • and a tendency to complain about easily handled tasks.

A passive-aggressive worker can be dishonest because it’s easier to lie or fib than it is to say what’s really on their mind. This could lead to:

  • missed deadlines;
  • improperly finished assignments;
  • avoidance of responsibility;
  • and withholding of important information.

While passive-aggressive communicators are tricky to spot right away, it’s not impossible to do. If, during an interview, a candidate comes off as sarcastic, leaks negative gossip, and/or repetitively teases people, these could be signs that the candidate is passive-aggressive and bad for the workplace.

The ‘Chatty Cathy’

Listening skills are important — so important, in fact, that some companies provide listening skills training to their employees. Listening skills are crucial for interpreting messages from coworkers, managers, and clients. When candidates don’t stop to take a breath during the interview, take note: this may be a sign that they can talk the talk, but they can’t quite walk the walk — the “walk” of listening, that is.

Active listeners are valuable to offices. Mind Tools says we only remember 25-50 percent of what goes in and out of our ear canals. Those who don’t listen actively might skim over conversations and miss out on the important details that an avid listener would catch.

The Aggressive One

Slow down there, buddy — no need to raise your voice! Aggressive communicators can sometimes be confused with assertive communicators. Here are some signs from writer Steve Adubato that your candidate might be an aggressive communicator:

  • they use a harsh, personal tone;
  • they demonstrate poor listening skills;
  • they have a “my way or the highway” attitude;
  • they frequently use accusatory speech;
  • and they struggle to admit fault.

Aggressive communicators are easy to spot because they are so forward and seemingly frustrated. Being in tune with candidates’ tone and body language can help recruiters recognize aggressive communicators and avoid them.

Assertive Types

Though assertiveness is commonly mistaken for aggression, assertive communicators are the type of candidate you want on the team. Here are the characteristics of what an assertive communicator looks like:

  • they aim to achieve certain goals;
  • they are driven;
  • they speak in a direct, concise manner;
  • and they use a strong, confident voice.

Assertive communicators tend to promote customer satisfaction; they are more likely to pay attention to what customers have to say, to ask customers to repeat questions to ensure they understand customer desires, and to respectfully represent the company brand with pride.

Assertive employees are beneficial to their surrounding coworkers and team members as well, because they are more likely to communicate with team members, take action on assignments, and provide solid contributions to meetings and projects.

Being in tune with your interviewees and paying attention to their speech and body language can decrease the chances of recruiting a bad egg with poor communication skills. Doing so will save recruiters time and money.

By Noelle Murphy