Debatable at Work

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The U.S. Presidential debates will continue as both Democrats and Republicans fight to get the nomination.  Once the candidates are finally cleared up, then we will have the big set of debates:  Democrats vs. Republicans.  We are just getting started.

Regardless of politics, the debates are a real show.  What the candidates are showing is unclear to many, but one thing is clear to me.  The behavior of the candidates would not be tolerated in the workplace.  Each debate is an example of a hostile workplace.

With scorn, the candidates raise questions about each other’s facts; they tell each other that decisions of the past were terrible; they interrupt and correct each other; each one accuses each other of all sorts of things and the accused has little time for defense.

Imagine if this happened in the workplace.  Just think if two executives calling each other a liar in front of the company.  Visualize the head of marketing telling the head of engineering what a loser he was a few years ago and the engineer leader waiting her turn to smack down the marketing guy.  THAT would be a workplace that I wouldn’t like.

In the current set of debates no one listens to each other and each candidate usually answers any question except the one that was asked.  I can see that all-hands meeting when an employee asks the leader a question like, “Are we on track to get bonuses this year?” and the response is, “That’s a good question, let me answer a different one.”

Managers are too smart to start believing this is a good way to communicate.  In fact, no one would allow them to communicate in such a childish way.  A manager who communicates this way would not be successful and would not last long.   An effective communicator is authentic and accountable for what he or she says and always tells the truth.

Lessons for managers can be learned from our current set of debates.  The lesson is usually what NOT to do.

Keep watching the debates.  You will be better informed and learn what matters in communicating to constituents.

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