Kicking and Screaming - Artful Communication

Inflicting bodily harm on your co-workers is not the right way to go about interacting with them, but there are times when a bit more verbal force could go a long way in the discussion. At other times, forceful words just lead to absolute disaster. Communication truly is an art form.

This is one lesson I learned the hard way early on in my career. I was 6 months into my first job out of college, working hard and learning new things every day. The lead developer and I were working on a project for a high profile client and we were having some trouble with how QA was looking at the project. We were getting a lot of issues back from them that didn’t line up with the documents that we built the application from.

My lead and I went over to one member of the QA team and started to tell her what was going on, and why it wasn’t acceptable. Our discussion quickly turned into an argument, with nobody taking the time to wait and hear what the others had to say. This went on, got more heated, and ended up with this lady breaking into tears.

Needless to say we felt bad. Awful, really. We apologized and tried to patch the damage that was done, dropping the issue altogether. It never did get resolved on that project.

Don’t learn how to communicate

Learn how each person needs to be communicated with. In hindsight, getting worked up was not what this lady in QA needed. She didn’t need someone raising their voice or being forceful. All she needed was for someone to patiently explain why the process that was being used was not effective for this project. A little compassion, some benefit of the doubt and decent attitude could have side-stepped this little catastrophe.

It might be best to gracious and soft-spoken with the emotional pregnant lady. However, for the cocky know-it-all you might need to use a harsher tone to make them listen and accept what you have to say. Remember, any time you communicate with someone your goal is to get your point understood by them with as little conflict and confusion as possible. Depending on the person this could completely change your delivery.

Start at the bottom

I needed to make sure that the lady from QA understood the point I was trying to make before moving on to anything else in the conversation. I started off without a foundation to build on, and it ended up costing me the quality QA that the projected needed.


Learn how to interact with different people. Sensitive people need you to be gracious; other people need a harsh word. Learn who needs what, and work to minimize and ultimately avoid conflict. Make sure your general point is clearly understood by all parties involved before you discuss the meatier items. These two things will go a long way in helping discussions around the office, reducing stress and increasing productivity. Let’s face it, nobody enjoys the typical office yelling match, or the awkwardness it can create around the office.

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