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Become a Brilliant Communicator. Today’s Communicators. Andrew Krzmarzick GovLoop Community Manager /profile/ andrewkrzmarzick /in/ andrewkrzmarzick | @ krazykriz. Hannah Ornell GovLoop Graduate Fellow /profile/ HannahOrnell

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today s communicators
Today’s Communicators

Andrew Krzmarzick

GovLoop Community Manager | @krazykriz

Hannah Ornell

GovLoop Graduate Fellow @hsornell

communication gaffes happen
Communication Gaffes Happen

“Communication by email for me is the likeliest source for miscommunication. Between being misunderstood because of misread tone or address error, the possibilities are great.

Although I cannot note a specific miscommunication, I know I have double checked my sent box a dozen different times after a sudden fear that I may have inadvertently replied to the "wrong" person.”

communication gaffes happen1
Communication Gaffes Happen

“While working as a young supervisor, I was miffed by an employee’s lack of follow through on a specific task. I, angrily, left her a message on her dry erase board, for her only to see the next day. Rethought the delivery of this communication (as opposed to more professionally speaking with her directly), so I went to erase the message and discovered I had used permanent marker. Ugh. Had to cover the secured dry board with paper until new one could be installed. This incident taught me a lot, to say the least.”


Top 5 Office Communication Challenges

  • When Informal Is Abnormal: Tips for Email
  • When Voicemail Isn’t Enough: Tips for Telephone
  • When Islands Are Isolating: Tips for Feedback
  • When Time Is Too Short: Tips for Meetings
  • When Colleagues Are Quirky: What Would You Do?
1 when informal is abnormal
1. When Informal is Abnormal

Challenge: How formal do I need to be when using communication technology like email, IM, texting and social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, blogs) in a professional setting?

1 when informal is abnormal1
1. When Informal is Abnormal
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that poor grammar is increasingly an issue in the workplace
  • Study by the Society for Human Resource Management and AARP: most respondents blame young workers for this trend
  • However, with younger generations on the forefront of communication technologies, they may have developed a new norm of informality



1. When Informal is AbnormalTIPS FOR EMAIL

  • Remember: your email representsyour agency
  • Start formal, then react to respondents’ tone
  • Use signature blocksso people can follow-up
  • Leave “Sent from iPhone/BlackBerry”
  • Avoid sending work emails after hours (schedule if you do)
  • Take a break from email; check at set intervals

2. When Voicemail Isn’t Enough

Challenge: How do I ensure the meaning of my message gets across when I’m using technology?


2. When Voicemail Isn’t Enough

Phone Miscommunication Lands a Family in Court


2. When Voicemail Isn’t EnoughTIPS FOR TELEPHONE


  • Don’t just jump right in with business
  • Start with a warm-up:
    • “How’s your day going?” or
    • If you know of another project the person is working or something personal, ask about that

2. When Voicemail Isn’t EnoughTIPS FOR TELEPHONE

  • Have an agenda in mind; jot it down, stay on task.
  • If it’s a scheduled call, allot a time limit for it.
  • Got a call that’s going long?
    • Say you have another meeting / ask when you can continue later (or shift to email).
  • Get a call when you’re under a deadline?
    • Ask to schedule to a later time.

2. When Voicemail Isn’t EnoughTIPS FOR TELEPHONE

  • Summarize what you discussed
    • state action items:
    • I will do x, y and z. You will do a and b by ____.”
  • Make sure the “business” part is over
    • ask “is there anything else I can help you with?”

3. When Islands Are Isolating

Challenge: We underestimate the power of positive and constructive feedback as a motivator. How can we more effectively give and receive feedback at work?


3. When Islands Are Isolating

You don’t need to take the team…

…to a retreat in paradise…

…to motivate your employees.

It just takes some feedback.


3. When Islands Are Isolating


  • Recognition for a job well done is a powerful motivator
  • People want to improve, so don’t hesitate to offer constructive criticism
  • Bespecific. What exactly did they do?
  • Avoid email / chat: too impersonal
  • Hand-written notes = rare,but respected
  • Give feedback in person, when possible.
    • Do so publicly as appropriate
    • Use video if remote

3. When Islands Are Isolating


  • Say “thank you.”
  • Listen to understand.
  • Don’t get defensive.
  • Ask questions to get specificity.
  • Give it serious consideration.
  • Do something about it.
  • The only person you can change = YOU!
  • Make it easy for people to give feedback:
    • Office hours, “tip” box, email address, incentives

4. When Time Is Too Short

Challenge: Have you ever left a meeting feeling like your time would’ve been better spent at your desk? Me, too. How can you make meetings worthwhile?


4. When Time Is Too Short

Here’s a failed meeting example we all know: the Super Committee!


4. When Time Is Too Short


  • Begin and end on time.
  • Arrive early with all necessary materials
  • Circulate an agendabeforehand
  • Take a break at minimum every two hours
  • Only have meetings when necessary:
    • Pssst…it’s okay to cancel!
  • Avoid holding meetings during people’s most productive hours

4. When Time Is Too Short


  • Don’t accept calls or texts during a meeting.
  • Don’t sit down – seriously.
  • If you (must) have a PowerPoint, make it visually interesting
  • Meetings with a clear leader or time keeper move quicker
    • they can keep the team on track

5. Application: When Colleagues Are Quirky

  • Get in groups of 4-5 people
  • Read the scenario and ask yourself: what would you do?
  • Select one or more of the communication vehicles
  • Plan your response to the situation
  • Bonus: use 4-5 of the tips you’ve learned today.
  • Assign a spokesperson to share with the larger group.

“Much unhappinesshas come into the world because of bewildermentandthings left unsaid.”

- Fyodor Dostoevsky

thank you
Thank You!

Andrew Krzmarzick

GovLoop Community Manager | @krazykriz

Hannah Ornell

GovLoop Graduate Fellow | @hsornell