Secrets of a Communication Curmudgeon

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Conflicts and clashes are as common at most workplaces as black coffee on Monday morning.  If you’re looking to axe communication completely though, try ramping up curmudgeonese and then watch its magic spin.

Bickering is usually where curmudgeons nail their hottest acts. Get to water coolers early to …

1. Fire your best missiles – but then dodge surefire bullets back!  

First, spray conflicts with tone toxins. Let’s say you catch complaints about a policy that sucks in your department. Agree with loudest dissidents – then take cover quick behind the nearest bully.

Or say you overhear workers nitpicking about feeling undervalued. Jump onto a winning side, dodge bullets coming from other curmudgeons, and fire back accusations to anyone who dares to challenge your importance.

Curmudgeon rule #1 – Stay safe by simply spewing opposites of what you really mean.  Curmudgeons project their best lethal darts by dosing them with bogus gratitude about having a job at all in these tough times.

2. Avoid confusion – never listen to pesky problem solvers!

Offer instant advice wherever you spot ambiguity. Canned words work best when time’s at a premium. Be careful though, not to let opponents confuse your wisdom with their lame alternatives to your water-tight realities that don’t need change.

Remind them about endless problems any realist expects at work, before you get stuck trying to manage any messy mutiny from do-good-optimists trying to patch inevitable workplace fiascos. Oh, and never waste time listening! That’s the curmudgeon secret to sidestepping most unnecessary solutions that likely wouldn’t work anyway.

OK, one final step will nail your key curmudgeon zinger to keep you firmly inside its ring.

3. Rekindle rumors to prove you were right all along!

It’s easier than most non-curmudgeons think. Simply alter adrenalins to fuel a fiery skirmish and rekindle robust rumors.  Let’s face it – rumors dose workplace wellbeing like a wet-blanket on steam. Curmudgeons rekindle rumors with a few easy steps. Your best mental torch here is cortisol toxins. Luckily, it’s already in overwhelming supply in an average curmudgeon’s brain. Forget interventions for peace  – this warrior chemical flares up any amygdala in sight.  Why do you think a heated amygdala is otherwise known as the seat of hot emotion?  And why do you suppose these workplace dissidents waste no time on taming their egos?  It’s all part of the plan.

Let’s face it they’ve tapped into science and so can you.  They rely on rumor mills that bite faster than bedbugs, because they know that dangerous cortisol blocks healthy brain chemicals such as serotonin that fuel non-curmudgeon brains.  They also know rumors are impossible to stop. A curmudgeon’s simple response?  Why let simple inconsistencies or rumors, stop you from proving you already possess any answers the workplace needs?

Anything on the other side of curmudgeon conflicts?

If curmudgeonism fails to get results you’d hoped for at work, why not try a few hidden and unused mental tools to build goodwill on the other side of conflicts?

1. Communicate with Mental Mojo

Build communication with mental tone tools. Tone can help you disagree while building goodwill with those who differ. Disagreement becomes an art that draws together differences and a science that offers evidence in growth past communication roadblocks.

Tone tools take different shapes in different settings, and yet lead to growth in most. With online life increasing, for instance  – online tone is more critical than ever before. If you’re curious enough, be sure to survey your tone skills and check your sizzling scores.

2. Tone Tools for the Water Cooler Crowd

Start by simply affirming another person’s thoughts before sharing your views on the other side – to show that you really heard, sorted, and valued them. Nobody said you have to agree with them. Or thank people for different ideas presented and show how you’ve tried or considered them further. Toss your own ideas into the ring to show and explain differences you see.

Be sure to share personal experiences respectfully as another angle to think about together – rather than as a need to replace the original ideas that were presented. Remember you are looking to stir and learn from diverse sides of the issue.

3. Exchange Advice-Giving and Compliance Demands for Actions that Motivate.

Ask what-if,  or have-you-thought-about questions to discover shared solutions. It could be as small as reorganizing work shifts for flexibility. Or it could be bold new acquisitions that link diverse cultures.

Discover how the brain’s hippocampus kindles novelty with a shot of dopamine’s chemical, when you simply propose an original idea to counter a problem.

4. Tame Your own Amygdala First Before you Attempt to Muzzle a Mate.

Come to conflicts with cool water that doses fires, rather than squabbles that ignite them. Add unique ideas to the mix to inspire peers with confidence. More as part of a good discussion than a need to top the original points. Be sure to support your best ideas with concrete examples to help people see possibilities you suggest.

Avoid curmudgeon communication that tanks productivity by introducing a few brain-based communication choices.  Ready to reboot for another run at a far more productive path at work?

Image credit: scotttalent / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted at Switch and Shift – Human Side of Business. This post was part of the series “Communication,” a weeklong effort co-hosted by Switch & Shift and the good people at SmartBrief’s SmartBlog on Leadership.

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