Our Unwillingness to Confront

Several of us recently were lamenting the replacement of confrontation with generic communication. Specifically, we were discussing those situations where people deal with an individual issue by addressing the group. For example, when a passenger boards an airplane with their identification in hand, I’ve seen the gate agent stop the boarding process to make a general announcement to all passengers that they don’t need their ID to board. This isn’t effective communication. It’s a smack down.

Another example is when an employee questions an expense report policy and the response is to simply reissue the policy to the whole company. Don’t insult us, we can read. We’re trying to understand.

Dress codes are another example. Rather than confront an improperly dressed employee, managers reissue the dress code and hope the right person gets the hint. Unfortunately, an awful lot of properly dressed people feel that this is directed toward them and companies end up offending a whole group.

In most cases I attribute this to cowardice. People are unwilling to confront the individual and address the specific issue so they make blanket pronouncements and hope folks think it was targeted at them. Instead, one of two outcomes results. Either the target individual is blissfully unaware that this communication is targeted at them so the rest of the recipients are simply insulted or the individual gets the hint and feels that everyone else knows that they were the target. This gives companies the double whammy of really annoying one individual AND alienating everyone else. Good Job!

Get up off of your behind and go have a conversation for heaven’s sake!