Tag Archives: teaching business communication

Dealing with Toxic Co-Workers… Downside of Informal Work Protocols… Résumé Tips for Remote Jobs

Dealing with Toxic Co-Workers 

The workplace is rife with conflicts among coworkers, from minor inconveniences such as disruptively loud speaking to the more serious breaches of being interrupted, ignored, or taken advantage of. Behavioral experts offer suggestions about how to deal with the common phenomenon.

  1. DO confront colleagues about bad behavior. Don’t avoid dealing with difficult colleagues, but when you do, lead with a compliment, not a criticism. For example, if a coworker has not carried his or her fair share of a project, don’t start with “We’re all stuck doing your portion of the work. That’s so unprofessional.” Instead, open on a positive note. “I was pleased when you were assigned to the team because of your ability to XX.” Then focus on a specific behavior. “I’ve noticed that XX has been doing your weekly reports. We’d all like to hear your perspective.
  2. Bring annoying colleagues closer rather than pushing them away. Avoidance is not the best strategy when dealing with people who make us angry. Say an individual regularly hijacks meetings or goes behind your back to get his or her way. To mitigate such behavior, ask that “bulldozer” to help make sure everyone’s voice is heard during a meeting. “You know how Greg never takes credit for his accomplishments. Why don’t you make sure everyone knows how hard he’s worked.”
  3. Align yourself with others the office pest bothers. Form alliances with workplace colleagues who have also been affected by an office bully. Experts say that having broad social connections rather than relying on a single best work friend helps form a united front of colleagues who, together, can better bring the problem to a manager’s attention.

Source: West, T. (2022, February 19.) How to deal with office jerks. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com

Downside of Informal Work Protocols

Few workers miss long commutes or trekking through winter weather while decked in work attire. But while remote work offers many benefits, it comes with some distinct negatives, too.

A lack of formalities such as clear start and stop times sounds great on the surface. However, a Harvard Business School study revealed that remote workers actually work longer hours.

The around-the-clock workday allows employers to monopolize their employees’ time throughout the day and night, making it more difficult for workers to maintain a formal end to their day or ask for time off.

Another loss to workers caused by the casual workplace is the elimination of managerial hierarchies with clear pathways for advancement. Many workplaces have done away with middle management positions, instead having lower level workers report directly to top-level leaders. This flatter organizational structure particularly affects junior employees because their managers delegate more responsibilities onto them without giving formal promotions.

Finally, working remotely has particularly hurt workers at the bottom of workplace hierarchies. These employees may be hesitant to report harassment or to push back against bad behavior without the formal reporting procedures that are routine in an actual office.

Perhaps worst of all is that in the casual workplace, young employees do not interact with managers who ideally would model appropriate workplace behavior.

Source: Spiers, E. (2022, February 7.) What we lose when work gets too casual. The New York Times. https://www.nyt.com

Résumé Tips for Remote Jobs

To convince a potential employer that you are capable of being a productive addition to a business even when working remotely, your résumé must convincingly illustrate that you have the skills to work in a hybrid or fully remote function.

Use these strategies when applying to remote or hybrid positions.

  • Describe any remote or hybrid roles explicitly: Remotely managed multiple projects for team leaders in four U.S. cities.
  • Highlight relevant skills: Ability to manage time efficiently without oversight.
  • Show you can collaborate virtually: Mentored peers on using Slack.
  • Demonstrate self-motivation: Initiated system to reduce overstocking by 15%.
  • Spell out tech skills: Digital competencies include fluency in Slack, Microsoft Teams, Basecamp, and Google Drive.
  • Project collegiality: Took on team leadership of project when colleague fell ill, leading to team being recognized in all-hands meeting.

Source: Samuel, A. (2022, February 17.) Looking for a remote job? It’s time to update your résumé. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com



COVID Alters E-Mail Language

As the pandemic continues, people in the business world have adjusted the way they correspond in a way that acknowledges the collective angst associated with COVID-19. Gone are exclamation points to indicate enthusiasm and emojis to show light-heartedness. In their place are heartfelt words that reflect the danger and upheaval the pandemic has wrought all over the world.

Public relations experts such as Benjamin Schmerler in New York say that any communication today should at least acknowledge the “collective vulnerability that people feel.” He adds that because so many employees are working from home, the ability to communicate casually in the office isn’t possible, so written communications such as e-mail, texts, instant messaging, and even Slack messages should include a personal touch.

Gretchen McCulloch, the author of Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language,explains that COVID-19 has created a shared reality that workplace communication reflects. Likewise, Prof. Naomi Baron says that people are more deliberate when they write, which leads to text that divulges more personal and truthful remarks. This phenomenon is exacerbated by the fact that many people are not working at the office, so sharing personal touches—such as a blooming backyard garden—has become gracious rather than extraneous.

This in no way means the writer should wax eloquent or be verbose, says Brian Metcalf, the founder of a digital marketing agency. He tells employees to remove jargon and to message concisely—no one wants to wade through lengthy messages. This fundamental principle of business communication remains in effect today.

One element all the experts agree upon is to omit blatant enthusiasm. Grinning emojis should be replaced with a thumbs-up to acknowledge receipt of a message. Carefree smiley faces and cat pictures show a level of tone-deafness unacceptable in the current situation.

The bottom line is to show sensitivity without oversharing the personal. At the same time, to pretend that it’s life and business as usual can make the recipient of a message feel disrespected.


  1. Why do experts suggest it’s important to mention health and wellness in professional messages today?
  2. What are some softening phrases you might use at the beginning of an e-mail or text message that are not clichéd?
  3. Which emojis should you avoid in professional communication, and why?

From The Wall Street Journal


Be Yourself During Interviews… Coronavirus Changes Digital Etiquette… Isolation Can Be Good for Problem Solving

Be Yourself During Interviews

Many job seekers enter an interview planning to deliver what they assume the interviewer wants to hear. However, research shows this strategy often backfires and that instead, interviewees should simply be themselves.

Research has found that attempting to cater to an interviewer’s expectations is a flawed tactic primarily because no one can be certain about another’s preferences. In addition, trying to hide one’s own opinions and ideas is draining and leads to a diminished performance during the interview.

The researchers of a recent survey examined 379 working adults and asked them to prepare a video interview talking about themselves and a proposed job. Participants were divided into three groups: catering, authenticity, and control. Those showing authenticity—voicing their own opinions and preferences despite the potential unpopularity of those ideas—were more likely to land the job than job seekers in the other groups.

Shakespeare may have been onto something when he wrote “To thine own self be true.”

 From The Wall Street Journal

Coronavirus Changes Digital Etiquette

The pandemic has made reliance on digital communication the norm, and consequently, the rules of good online etiquette have become more critical than ever.

These tips will make communicating online more effective in meetings or conversations that take place over platforms from Zoom to Google Hangouts.

  • Avoid multi-tasking while in a work meeting.
  • Make eye contact as much as possible during video calls.
  • Appoint a call leader to keep the meeting on task.
  • Keep the microphone muted until you want to speak. Then raise your hand and wait to be recognized. Remember to turn on the microphone when you do
  • Create less formal get-togethers with colleagues outside of meetings. Doing so helps attendees to focus on the meeting agenda instead of catching up with one another, thus improving productivity.
  • Realize co-workers have other demands in their lives that affect their ability to respond to text messages or e-mails quickly.

The bottom line is that kindness is key, the article notes.

From The New York Times

Isolation Can Be Good for Problem Solving

The benefits of collaboration are many, from brainstorming to gaining insights from multiple perspectives. But working alone is also important, especially for problem solving.

New research suggests that constant communication among team members can reduce “collective intelligence,” or a team’s ability to solve problems together. Instead, short bursts of collaboration and longer intervals of solo thinking time seem to garner the best work from both high-and low-performers.

The researchers found that teams practicing continuous interaction did not allow top-performing individuals to maximize their creativity. In teams whose members worked in complete isolation, lower performers did not receive the benefit of others’ input and solutions, thereby pulling down the team’s effectiveness. The sweet spot that netted the best team output practiced intermittent communication—a combination of touching base while still allowing individuals time for solo contemplation.

This working style of implementing short but intense group sessions leaves members enthusiastic, able to hear one another’s ideas, and coordinate activity moving forward, all attributes of successful teamwork, the research found.

From BBC Worklife