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Communication: Why the Woes?

Fall 2019 Newsletter -> Insights

As communication and behavior experts, we know that communication is at the root of the successes and challenges we encounter.


– The 5-alarm tantrum

+ The clear and defensible assessment report

– The adversarial and unproductive IEP meeting

+ Collaborative multidisciplinary team practices

– Resentment between Supervisor and Supervisee


Even communication experts have room to grow, especially when it comes to communicating effectively and positively with colleagues and parents of our clients!


There are five generations active in the workforce today! The ample media attention to this topic most often highlights generational differences and makes generalizations. An article by Rebecca Knight for the Harvard Business Review outlines some tips on how to avoid generational tension.


  • Don’t dwell on the differences
    • Move beyond the labels, generalizations, and stereotypes, and take care not to use language that promotes this type of thinking (e.g. “Well he’s a millennial so…”)
  • Build collaborative relationships
    • Partner up with people of different ages, and invite collaborative input regardless of generational differences (e.g. if supervising someone younger than you, be sure to welcome a healthy dialogue about ideas – room for critique and honest sharing of opinions)
  • Create opportunities for cross-generational mentoring
    • There is a lot we can learn from each other, regardless of age differences. Having mixed-age teams can promote cross-generational mentoring and help improve outcomes (tech savvy, new ideas, sage advice based on years of experience- share what you have, and learn from your team)
  • Consider life paths
    • Don’t make generalizations; make a point to find out others’ personal needs, perspectives, interests, strengths, and motivations.


In a Forbes article by Mark Murphy,  he encourages consideration of our own personal communication style and that of others.

  • Analytical: Prefers data and facts; uses specific and precise language
  • Intuitive: Prefers to get the big picture and not get bogged down in too much detail
  • Functional: Prefers to focus on the process and think through plans step by step
  • Personal: Prefers to place emphasis on relationships and establishing personal connections to understand what others are thinking


What kind of communicator are you? Can you think of any colleagues who have a different style? While having a team that represents a variety of communication styles is a strength, it can be problematic if there is not room for everyone to get their needs met and use their communication skill set effectively. We should aim for transparency about differences and preferences-  all are valid and bring their own perks to the mix!


Empathy and respect of diversity improve communication, and even as communication experts, there is always room to grow in our understanding and respect of others!