Workplace: Reading clues

Overheard: “Do you mean to tell me that you can only tell when someone is struggling when they look you in the face and tell you?” Which reminded me of a workplace situation I experienced in my 20s: I was in great physical pain, at work, and trying to get through the day. I thought certainly someone must notice my pained expression and hesitant (when otherwise flowing) movement through the office. No One Noticed.

So yes, sometimes people need us to tell them. Directly.

Other times, people will notice. And still other times, we are the ones who need to be doing the noticing, reading clues that are right before us. Co-workers. Service workers. Zoom-meetings where people have switched their video off. Clues abound. It’s our job to notice them and decipher how to proceed.

And, knowing how to proceed is not always clear-cut or easy. A few months ago, I thought I was in a work scoping meeting and yet I was being interviewed. When I read the clues and asked about it, the individuals didn’t respond well. That’s what I mean, it was clearly an interview, yet the people involved didn’t like my directness and then, they didn’t know how to proceed directly. So instead, they made round-about maneuvers to opt not to continue the conversation at all. Hmm. Best-attempted people- reading still backfired. The point being, learning to read the clues is the first step. The second step is deciphering how to proceed in order to keep relationships intact and working. (More on the second step at a future date.)

Step One details:

a. Recognize these clues: facial expressions, changes in body position, tone of voice, eye-contact or lack thereof. Anything that seems different than your typical interactions with the person.

b. Listen carefully to see what the clues are telling you, or might be telling you.

c. If the person appreciates directness, you can ask something like “I sense there may be something else I need to know. What would be helpful for me to know?”

d. If the person does NOT want directness, move cautiously to explore what the message behind the spoken messages might really be. Is there a co-worker who might help you determine what you should be hearing? Is there a one-on-one meeting that needs to be scheduled?

e. Return to Listening. Sometimes people just need someone to LISTEN and acknowledge without wanting or needing a solution.

What clues have you recently read accurately?

Have there been clues you missed?

What clue reading will benefit you this week? In which meetings or situations?

Ready for tips on reading clues – as an individual? As a team? Contact Jana: 208-367-1701

As the author of seven books, in seven languages, Jana has been interviewed by U.S., Canadian, and European programs, and magazines. Her presentations have been seen in the United States and India by international audience members.

Workplace – the Blog: Managing the moments of our day-to-day business lives takes work. Together, let’s explore what issues and activities affect us every day (or some days) that we go to work. Together we can find working solutions.

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