Have A Conversation: And Don’t Forget To Listen! By Toni Bahnsen

“Good conversation is at the heart of networking, meetings, interviews, negotiations and raising your profile. It can ease your way in work, enabling you to build alliances, create strong relationships with staff, bosses and clients, succeed at interviews, motivate and inspire.”

Publisher’s Summary ©2014 Judy Apps (P)2014 Audible Studios, The Art of Conversation

 Having a conversation is all about listening . . . it truly is.

Leave the listening piece out of a conversation and you may find yourself with a rather fruitless endeavor tinged with lots of frustrations.

We’ve all been there . . .

You receive an inquiry email from a customer or colleague. You respond with what you think is the perfect answer and, uh oh, they respond with another question.  And your emails go back and forth, each of you becoming more and more frustrated.

Or, you’ve set up the perfect online training for colleagues. You launch the training and provide a link for feedback in a survey.  And then the survey comments begin, “What do you mean by . . .”, or “This doesn’t make sense, am I missing something?”, or “How do I get to the other screen?”, or “What do I click on?”  And once again, you are corresponding back and forth digitally wondering why in the world the participants don’t understand the training.

Or, you have an employee who just doesn’t seem to be able to take directions. You don’t know how many emails you’ve sent to them about a project, but it just isn’t getting done the way you would like to see it done.  You wonder if they are even reading the emails you’ve sent.

Don’t get me wrong, technology and the digital age are amazing.  They save us time and resources, increase productivity, push the efficiency needle way up, and the list just goes on and on.  And many times technology is all you need, which is a big bonus!

But sometimes technology is not enough. There are times with digital communication when everyone is frustrated; people are afraid of what they perceive to be the unknown; no one can gauge the tone of the conversation; they just can’t seem to ask the right question or get the right answer; they feel like they don’t have all the information they need; no one is on the same page.

So how can you get everyone on the same page?  How can you quell the fear?  How can you dispel the misperceptions?  How can you achieve productive communication?  How can you gauge the frame of mind of participants?

Have a conversation.

In person, on the phone, Zoom, Skype, whatever it takes, just have a conversation.

And, don’t forget to listen! Actively listen to the other person.  You would be surprised what listening can do for a conversation!

A conversation with active listening allows all parties a chance to be heard and understood, information to be gained, light bulbs to be turned on, false perceptions to be removed, a chance to find the correct page to be on, team cohesiveness to increase, and so much more!

So, the next time you feel as though you’ve hit a brick wall in your digital communication . . .

Just have a conversation.

And don’t forget to listen!

Four Key Elements of Emotional Intelligence

  1. Self- Awareness: Be aware of your emotions; your team or colleagues may not clue you into the need to do this.
  2. Social Awareness: Focus more on the other person than yourself. Listen to the person with which you are speaking and do not think about what you will say next; really listen. Ask team members periodically how they are feeling about a specific project, task, etc. Just acknowledging someone’s stress may make him or her feel better.
  3. Self-Management: Set narrow and measurable goals, such as giving your undivided attention to the person who walks into your office. Before reacting, stop and take a deep breath and think about what is really going on with both you and the other person.
  4. Relationship Management: Interact with people, encourage teamwork, manage conflict when necessary and be positive.

HR Magazine, March 2018, “Are You an Emotional Genius?” by Dori Meinert

Did you Know!?

43% of drivers use a phone for work while driving! This raises potential liability for employers in the event of an accident.  Source: Travelers Insurance

HR Magazine, February 2018 page 10

Friending on Facebook

Do you “friend” people you work with on Facebook?  There could be reasons you should not.

Things change if a Facebook friend becomes the boss.  If you are friends with a subordinate, you have the potential to get additional information you otherwise would not have.  This information may have implications under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), if someone shares information on a medical condition.

As an HR person, you may learn things you don’t want to learn.  You may learn something that could contribute to an adverse action due to the existence of what you learned, which may affect you and/or your organization if you take action against an employee.  They could argue, “You learned I was pregnant, had bipolar, etc.”

Use the privacy settings on Facebook so only friends see what you post.  Be aware if your colleagues see your social media posts and find it/them offensive, those feelings may spill over into the workplace and the posts may no longer be private.

Active shooter: What is the plan of action for your workplace? By Amy Hardesty

Have you ever thought about your plan of action, if someone were to go into your office building with a gun and start shooting?  I have talked with my co-workers about the need for us to come up with a plan.    We all have planned what to do if we have a fire, or a tornado strikes, but do rarely talk about having a plan to confront an active shooter.  Did you know that The Ohio State University Police Department will come to your place of employment and give you a session of what you should do if you encounter an active shooter?  I think if we are adequately prepared, we will react better and it may save our life as well as the lives of all our co-workers. According to an article written by LoRusso in the American Bar Association on line article, while incidents of workplace violence involving guns are rare, about 700 people a year are murdered on the job, according to federal government statistics.  So how do you develop a plan of action for that terrifying scenario of having an active shooter in your workplace?  LoRusso says that an emergency response plan has to be practical, public and practiced.  Practicality includes having employees gather together to do a head count in two or three separate locations.  LoRusso’s article also talks about the importance of communicating.  “The plan of action has to be a public plan that employees know and understand what to do.  It has to be practiced so that you know the plan is going to work. Although a sad situation, many organizations are now practicing active shooter drills,” says LoRusso.


If an active shooter were to come into your building, do you have a plan in place for what you should do? If not why not call The Ohio State University Police Department and schedule a session for them to come to your workplace to help your office or department develop a strong plan of action.  For more information go to the Department of Public Safety https://dps.osu.edu/active-shooter.




Giving Feedback to People who Cry, Yell or Get Defensive

Giving feedback may be tough.  Remember the “why” when you are doing it.  Focus on the good reasons you are giving feedback.

Find your center and prepare, don’t go into a feedback session unprepared.  Increase your self-awareness.  Know how you react when someone has an emotional reaction.  Don’t wing these conversations.  Do your homework in advance and ground your assessments in observations, data, and concrete/factual examples.  Be as thoughtful as possible.

Handle reactions in the moment.  While the person you are speaking with may react negatively, you should remain calm.

Move the conversation to a productive place.  Work to diffuse the emotional response from the employee this will help you get back to the feedback.  If you have to, hold a second meeting.

When talking to someone who cries deliver the feedback thoughtfully and considerately.  Deliver the feedback at the end of the day.  Be sure to have a box of tissues available.  Acknowledge the conversation is difficult for the other person.

If the person yells, aim to stay calm while standing your ground.  Let the person know you don’t appreciate their yelling.

When an employee has a reason/explanation for everything, call the person out on not listening and encourage him/her to do so.

www.shrm.org “How to Give Feedback to People Who Cry, Yell or Get Defensive” October 26, 2016, Amy Jen Su

What can we learn from Google? By Robin Frazier

Over the last several years, Google seems to be at the top of the list as one of the best companies to work for by Time, Forbes, Inc., and many more. Could it be the perks of having on-site doctors and hair stylists, having one of the top recognized paid parental leaves,  or is it the gourmet cafeteria food (lunch is free by the way)? While the list of perks is long, Google’s former Head of People Operations, Laszlo Bock credits their management/leadership quality as one of the reasons Google’s retention rate is high and their employees are happy. But, what makes a great leader or great manager successful? According to Bock, successful leaders and managers demonstrate the following:

  • They give actionable feedback that helps employees improve performance.
  • They don’t micromanage and trust their team.
  • They show consideration for their team members as individuals.
  • They keep the team focused on priority results/deliverables.
  • They regularly share relevant information from senior leadership.
  • They have meaningful discussions about career development with each team member at least once every 6 months.
  • They communicate clear goals for their team.
  • They possess the technical expertise required to effectively manage their team.
  • They are the leader their team members would recommend to their colleagues.

According to Bock, “If you perform every behavior on the list, you’ll be an amazing manager.” (And maybe you’ll have a chance at the gourmet lunches, too.)


“Google’s HR boss says the best managers practice these 9 Habits.” Business Insider, Richard Feloni, 02 April 2015. Web 06 Feb. 2018.



What is the Trick to Keeping Top Talent?

The biggest issue many employers fail to make is to ensure their employees are engaged in their work. To keep employees engaged, we need to focus on going to great lengths to hire the right people and then manage them well.

Hiring the right people goes beyond just looking at their skills. The candidate needs to understand the mission of the organization.  Use behavior-based questions when conducting interviews.

Make sure your top talent knows they are valued. Help them know they have a future with Ohio State.  Talk to them about possible career paths.  Goal setting is critical to employee success.  Give the employee feedback along the way, don’t wait for the performance review conversation once a year.

Compensation is an indicator of job performance. If you do a better job than a co-worker and at the end of the year you both receive the same increase, how would that make you feel?

Insights.osu.edu, “Getting engaged at work” September 2017

Signs an Employee May Be Ready to Quit

  1. Work productivity decreases more than normal
  2. Act less like a team player than normal
  3. Doing the minimum amount of work
  4. Less interested in pleasing the manager
  5. Less willing to commit to long-term timelines
  6. Exhibited a negative change in attitude
  7. Exhibited less effort and work motivation
  8. Exhibited less focus on job related matters
  9. Express dissatisfaction with current job
  10. Express dissatisfaction with supervisor
  11. Left early from work more frequently
  12. Lost enthusiasm for the mission of the organization
  13. Shown less interest in working with customers

www.shrm.org “13 Signs That Someone is About to Quit, According to Research” November 16, 2016, Timothy M. Gardner and Peter W. Horn

HR Should Not Turn into Chief of Fun

While HR is tasked with managing morale boosting activities, be careful not to go overboard. If you become the “Chief of Fun” you risk losing credibility with employees, particularly those who are having issues at work resulting in disciplinary action.

It is more important for employees to feel comfortable confiding in HR about inappropriate behavior or misconduct than whether there will be a big party.

It is critical HR separate the tasks of conducting investigations and encouraging morale boosting activities. Employee committees and managers may be assigned to plan parties with HR’s oversight.  This will make HR look less like the “Chief of Fun” and keep credibility.

www.shrm.org “As ‘Chief of Fun,’ HR May Struggle to Fight Harassment” January 23, 2018, Allen Smith