Dear Reader

Communication: Do you ever get your wires crossed? While running a workshop the other day we started to discuss how communicating via email can lead to so many misunderstandings and the perils of using email. So I thought it would be useful to write about choosing the right mode of communication for what you are trying to achieve.

See the end of this newsletter for more information about ….

  • Ways in which we assist clients in developing their communication skills.
  • Master Your Inner Critic E-Learning Programme.

Best wishes

Melanie Greene


Communication: Do you ever get your wires crossed?

Why do communication breakdowns happen? Communication breakdowns and crossed wires can happen even in the simplest of conversations, let alone where you have to discuss something contentious or give some negative feedback to someone. There are many reasons why communication can break down in the workplace or within families or friendships:

  • Rapport - How much of a connection and rapport do you have with the individual? I see this as the foundation of any relationship and without it communication can go wrong quite quickly. You might need to take action to build rapport before having potentially difficult conversations.
  • Timing – Sometimes it is about finding the right time to communicate with someone. This will partly depend on what you are communicating, knowing when the individual is likely to be in the best frame of mind to listen. I always warn participants on my courses against setting the action of ‘first thing Monday morning I am going to speak to my manager about X'. As first thing Monday morning might not be the right time for them to listen and hear what is being said. Think about the individual, think about when are they going to be most receptive to what you have to say.
  • Wrong place/location – Do you need a private space to speak, do you need some uninterrupted time? Is the set up of the room conducive to the discussion that is going to take place?
  • The mood of the other person – If you know the individual(s) involved you can perhaps judge what mood they are in generally, how they are likely to respond.
  • Your mood – Your mood will affect your tone of voice and body language and can have a profound impact on how the other person perceives what you are saying and the direction that the conversation goes in. Click here to view the 2006 edition of Inspire on managing challenging interactions.
  • Personality differences – Understanding about different personality types might mean that someone whom you feel is being difficult is just a different personality type and therefore needs to be communicated with in a different way. I have explained in some detail how personality differences can impact on communication and working relationships in the June 2009 edition of Inspire, click here and within a family context click here.

Think about the last time you had a breakdown in communication, which factors were involved?

‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood.'

Stephen Covey

Misreading emails As so much of communication is about our voice and body language, it is not really surprising that email communication can go awry, especially if there is not a good level of rapport between the individuals involved. I have written about this in the 2008 edition of Inspire, click here to read the warning signs to look out for when email communication is not working.

When was the last time your email communication was misunderstood or you were annoyed or irritated by someone else's email?

Telephone communication If you think about it, in the past, we used to make phone calls from our offices or home, we were usually sat down comfortably, perhaps in a private space with few distractions. Now people make calls, even important calls, while driving, travelling on the train, walking down the road, in open plan offices and generally in public spaces. Although we might be trying to maximise the use of our time, are we maximising the potential of that telephone conversation? If it is an important conversation with a client, team member or even family member, when is the right time and place to make it? I just realised I am sounding like a BT advert, but perhaps they have a point!!

With the telephone you need to think about the importance of:

  • your tone of voice, what does it reveal about your mood and state of mind?
  • the rate of your speech, think about matching the other person, slowing down or speeding up a bit to match them and create more rapport with them.
  • managing silences, allowing the other person time to think.
  • showing that you are listening through verbal clues, reflecting back or summarising what you have heard.
  • asking appropriate questions to show that you are listening and to seek to understand the other person.

Think about recent telephone conversations you have had, what could you have done to enhance them?

‘Each contact with a human being is so rare, so precious, one should preserve it.'

Anais Nin

Team communication I run a lot of team building events and communication (the lack of it, the frequency, the quality of it and miscommunication) is usually high on the agenda. Even though we now have so many different ways of communicating with each other we have not necessarily improved our communication. Teams are often so busy that communication becomes very task orientated, with the human element being missed out. And if you are a manager think about what you can do to foster the human element, as this is vital in order to lead, manage and motivate your team.

On a scale of 0 (poor) to 10 (excellent) how good is communication within your team (or clients, suppliers, or your family)? If you asked others what would they say?

Communicating upwards I often run a workshop called ‘Managing Challenging Interactions' in a variety of organisations, and as you can imagine it is a popular course!! And one of the challenges that participants often have is in communicating with their manager. People talk about not feeling listened to, they often talk about giving up having tried to express themselves time and again, getting talked down to and being patronised. What a waste of their ideas and expertise. Participants also talk about 121 sessions with their managers supposedly for support, where they leave these meetings feeling angry, demotivated and frustrated, because it tends to involve the manager speaking at them, rather than focussing on their needs.

How open are you to listening and hearing your team members' ideas? Do you know what they really want and need in terms of support from you?

‘To listen closely and reply well is the highest perfection we are able to attain in the art of conversation.'

Francois de La Rochefoucauld

For more information about Inspire Transformation visit our website: or call Melanie on 01865 377334 or email

Examples of how Inspire Transformation has helped clients to enhance their communication….

  • A departmental head's management style was very authoritarian and they wanted to develop a more cooperative way of working with their department. 121 coaching was provided on an on-going basis to support her in changing her style of communication and management.
  • A team wanted to improve their communication skills and the way they worked by understanding their different personality types. A one day workshop was designed and run based on the Myers Briggs Personality Type.
  • A senior management team realised that they were not communicating and working as effectively as they could, so an on-going programme of workshops assisted them in exploring the issues and learning ways of enhancing their communication with each other.
  • An individual in a customer support role was often caught in the middle between customers wanting to know when products were going to turn up and internal teams who were not providing the information. The pressure of this on occasions led her to snap at colleagues. Coaching was provided on how to handle the pressures and stresses to assist them in communicating more clearly and assertively with both the customers and internally.

If you have a communication issue within your team or organisation give me a call on 01865 377334 to discuss it in confidence or email me at

For more details about the work that Inspire Transformation carries out in organisations visit


Master Your Inner Critic Online Learning Programme

  • Do you lose sleep worrying about what you haven't done?
  • Do you find it difficult to list your achievements?
  • Do you allow criticism to get you down?
  • Do you feel terrible when you make a mistake?

Then you will find that mastering your inner critic will help you to gain a more realistic assessment of your strengths, achievements, and what you do, so that you have more satisfaction and contentment in your life.

Master your inner critic today - Our new online programme contains four e-booklets and four video clips which take you through practical and easy to use techniques to master your inner critic. Click here to watch a short introductory video on my website and sign up today and start to master your inner critic immediately.


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Melanie Greene
01865 377334