Those of us who are a certain age will remember the BT advert starring Bob Hoskins and the strapline “it’s good to talk”. Many of those same people will also remember the scene from Fawlty Towers where the two old lady residents are sitting together complaining about the meat; “oh, its awful”, they say. Yet, when asked by Basil if everything is okay they nod politely!
The old cliché goes that Brits don’t like to complain or kick up a fuss and to be honest, in my experience, like most clichés there is more than a little truth behind it. So why didn’t we listen to Bob?
There is, no doubt, a deep seated psychological reason behind it that I am in no position to explain but I did want to look briefly at the problems not talking can cause in the workplace.
Nobody wants to develop a reputation as someone that is always complaining but too often a failure to communicate a problem leads to a much greater issue that is more difficult to resolve. An employee may have a small grievance about something fairly inconsequential but over time these issues can take on greater meaning and cause conflict in the workplace.
In an ideal world everyone would be perfectly aware of everyone else’s problems but unfortunately this is not the case. People are not mind readers! What may seem like a large and current issue in your own mind may not even be on your colleagues’ radar. The only way for you to make sure that the way you feel about a certain issue is addressed and considered is to bring it up yourself.
Obviously there are good and bad ways of bringing your problems to other people’s attention but the point is, it is your responsibility to do so. If you suffer in silence and then one day over-react and base a key decision on an issue that no one else is aware of can you really expect others to understand?
Good communication is a key ingredient of all good teams. It helps ensure that everyone understands each other and gives everyone a chance to adapt strategies or processes to take in to account input from each team member.
Whilst we are on clichés and quotes; how about “a problem shared is a problem halved?” Again, no one wants to be accused of complaining all the time but so often a problem that may seem large and daunting in our own minds can be solved quickly and easily with someone else’s help. By nature humans want to help others, even Brits!
So, next time you have a problem in the workplace, remember “it’s good to talk”.