How I learned to be a better communicator

living_with_a_cell_phone_03My co-worker was driving me mad! We had been working together several months now and the honeymoon was very much over. I was two days away from searching the job classifieds.

This co-worker was horrible about telling me things. She would omit what I needed to know: our boss wanted that report ASAP and I would need to fill in for her next week because she would be in training. She would also not tell me things that would be a courtesy to mention: she would be going to lunch and I would need to help out her client or she would be coming in late the entire Summer.

The situation was the absolute worst case scenario because we literally sat less than 10 feet away from each other. We were so close that she could have accurately chucked a stapler at my head with her eyes closed. Therefore, we should have been able to talk to each other, right? Apparently not.

I was beginning to feel like I was in a dysfunctional office marriage. At some point I did mention the issue to a supervisor whose only suggestion was that I talk to my office mate about this. I asked her to be more forthcoming about things related to the office. She became angry. Nothing changed. Case closed.

But then a funny thing began to happen. (Yes, after I realized finding another job would be difficult.) Yours truly (a major introvert) began to compensate for the fact that she was so uncommunicative. If I had the slightest sense that something was going on I would ask her about it and I would I tell her everything if I had an interaction with one of her clients so she was in the loop. Without realizing it I had begun to exercise the credo “treat others how you want to be treated.”

She never did take the hint (I think that supervisor-suggested conversation had cinched my fate there) but the change in my behavior was something good to come out of all the incredible frustration. Suddenly I was using my new communication skills in my personal relationships and even when chatting with the bank teller or postman. Albeit I did tend to ask leading questions so I wouldn’t have to talk about myself very much (still the introvert!) but overall it seemed to make me a better companion.

Was there a time in your life that something drove you crazy but you ended up learning from the situation?



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