Friction at work can be difficult to deal with. Lamar can’t stand to work with Jon, and Sasha feels completely disrespected by Jenna. Not to mention how frustrating the entire team finds Carol’s constant questions in meetings that always make them go over time.

Enough of it, and you might find yourself in the middle of a full-blown conflict. Depending on your Strengths and skillset, ongoing conflict can become a dealbreaker. Whether it sucks the fun right out of a job you used to love, or you find yourself feeling constantly anxious and on edge when you think about work, unattended workplace conflict is toxic.

The fix? It’s simple! Have a conversation. 

Okay, so maybe it’s simple, and that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. There’s a reason high-stakes communication is referred to as difficult or tough—because it is. As the saying goes, nothing worth doing is ever easy. And let me tell you, mastering tough conversations is not only worth it, it’s urgent.

Why is mastering tough conversations more important than ever?

According to Dynamic Signal’s 2018 State of Employee Communication and Engagement Report, “50 percent of U.S. workers are stressed out by systems that are supposed to be improving their connections with organizations. In fact, 33 percent of employees are so frustrated with poor communication that they want to quit their jobs.”

Here are 4 reasons you and your organization should focus on mastering tough conversations, now.


1. Prevent unnecessary frustration and possible turnover.

Poor communication within organizations leaves employees feeling disconnected, uncared for, and disenchanted. According to the same report:

  • 77% of people feel under-valued
  • 73% feel disengaged
  • 57% feel disconnected
  • Only 49% feel informed

Think about that: less than half of employees feel like they even know what’s going on with their own job. Despite all the new, fancy technologies companies are deploying to streamline communication, they’re ignoring the root cause of the issue. Access isn’t the problem, communication skills are the problem.

Skype, Slack, MS Teams, and email only improve communication insofar as the user knows what they’re doing. And most of us really don’t.

At Trybal, we’ve found time and time again that organizations fail to invest in effective communication training. If (and that’s a big “if”) they provide communication training, there’s almost no follow-through or cultural implementation. Sending individuals to training is great, and it’s only a start. In order for the skills and methods to make a difference, they need to become cultural.

People need to feel empowered and adept at having tough conversations to resolve a conflict. In fact, those same skills often prevent the conflict in the first place. If your organization fails to make this happen, you’re looking at 1 in 3 people quitting to find an organization that does.

2. Allow your employees to do their job.

It should be no shock poor communication has a direct effect on productivity. When people don’t have the information they need to do their job, they…well, they don’t do it. They can’t.

75% of people report wasting a significant amount of time a day looking for important information.

Sometimes, this can be attributed to poor communication from leadership about where to find information. That in and of itself is an issue; however, employees could avoid a lot of heartache if they were willing and able to ask questions. It’s not uncommon in cultures where poor communication is the norm for people to feel uncomfortable or unable to ask for help. They may fear appearing incompetent, or the person who has the information may not be approachable.

By equipping people with the skillset to have tough conversations, even seemingly harmless ones like asking for help, breakdowns like this become less frequent. What happens when people are empowered to do their jobs? Their morale increases, allowing them to serve clients and customers better.

According to an article in Zinc, “Sears found that a five-point improvement in employee attitude resulted in a 1.3% increase in customer satisfaction and thus a 0.5% increase in company revenue.”

Bottom line: the ability to communicate effectively incentivizes people to perform! 

3. End executive confusion.

In the Digital Signal study, they found an interesting contradiction among executives: though they perceived the company’s communication efforts were working, they also reported experiencing some of the same frustrations their employees did. It’s an interesting contradiction to explore.

  • “99% say keeping their workforce aligned and engaged is an important or critical strategic goal,” yet, “50% report missing a significant strategic company goal or objective because of ineffective employee communication and misalignment, and 60% of those executives reporting it happens at least monthly.”
  • “91% believe their company provides the right tools and guidance for employees to do their jobs,” but, “52% report ineffective company communication and workforce misalignment has cost their companies financially, and nearly half (48%) say it cost them more than 30% in missed or lost revenue.”
  • “93% believe their workforce can distinguish noise from important information well or very well,” and somehow, “52% say ineffective communication tools and channels have caused them to miss vital information.”

If the C-Suite is this confused, what chance does their workforce have? Well, if the employees are masters of tough conversations, a lot. According to the authors of the book, Crucial Conversations, one respectfully dissenting voice can change everything. If even one person is able to have a productive discussion with the executives, it could be enough to create some much-needed change.

4. Empower your internal influencers.

There’s more to leadership than a title. Within every organization, there are people who take it upon themselves to lead their peers, without the glory of a job title. At the end of the day, these are often the people leaders recognize as crucial to implementing change, pushing initiatives forward, and keeping the team morale high.

Unfortunately, poor communication is making it near-impossible for these people to have much of an effect:

  • 50% report their company is hurt financially because of ineffective workforce communication or misalignment
  • 55% think that employees have stress about missing important information, and 70% of this group say this is at least a weekly occurrence
  • 56% say they struggle to keep employees engaged and informed
  • 51% think their tools and guidance haven’t improved – or actually hurt – employee productivity
  • 48% say employees have blamed unclear or ineffective communication practices as a reason for poor job performance, with two-thirds reporting the blame occurs daily or weekly
  • 25% report that employees cannot distinguish between unimportant information and critical company messages

No matter the statistic you look at, it all boils down to one thing: poor communication skills and ability. Whether it’s digital or in-person, mastering tough conversations isn’t a luxury or “extra”; it’s a necessity.

And the sooner you can fix it, the better it’ll be for every aspect of your work life.


Want more details on how to do this for yourself or your team? Fill out our contact form, or give us a call at 281-947-2373!

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