communication and management
ez043419 at peseta.ucdavis.edu
Tue Jan 23 14:42:29 EST 1996
I've been following both the "getting heard" and "management styles"
threads with great interest (and as a long-time lurker, I'd like to
celebrate those of us who've been "provocative"--I think it's in the
spirit of ongoing discourse) and have another book suggestion:
Deborah Tannen. Talking From 9 to 5. (There's a long subtitle about
conversational styles in the workplace, and it's fairly new, last year or
I haven't actually read either this or her other popular book, "That's
not what I want", but she works professionally in linguistics and I heard
her talk about the new book on the radio (non-commercial station).
I gather these discuss both specific language and speech
differences (like speed, use of interrogatory rather than declarative
statements) as well as social contexts. She focuses a lot, but not
exclusively, on gender issues.
Two things that she said impressed me, and relate to the above threads:
1. She doesn't advocate everyone trying to play the same game, whether
"hardball", one-big-family, whatever. It's important to recognize that
the different styles exist; people should be conversant with more than
one if possible, and at least be able to negotiate agreements that are
workable for all. Treating others the way you want to be treated
doesn't guarantee that they will respond exactly as you would.
2. Part of a manager's responsibility is to understand this process and
keep it going, since the power differential makes it harder for the
supervisees to speak up when things are going badly (as we've all seen).
You can start with your own style as a default approach, but say to each
person, "this works well for me because _____, but if you feel you work
better if I do x or say things to you like y, let's talk about it". This
may involve discussing personal issues or just modifying specific behaviors.
I'm back in grad school after working for many years, and find the
academic milieu to be if anything less conducive to changes in
management techniques; maybe it's because of the tenure system. Not to
say that all innovations in business management are good...
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