Tips for Conversing in the Workplace | Karine Wong, Pharm.D. | RxEconsult

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Tips for Conversing in the Workplace Category: Pharmacy by - February 13, 2013 | Views: 8606 | Likes: 0 | Comment: 0  

Workplace conversation

In Social conversation rules in the workplace, I wrote about two workplace social conversation rules. To review, the first was to think twice before saying it and do not discuss private information at work. The rules seemed simple yet in our busy lives; we forget the simple things and start talking about everything to those around us. With all these rules, is it possible to have a decent conversation at work? Yes, you can. Here are two more tips to digest and practice.

Make small talk.

Small talk is a brief exchange of words or ideas between people. It is not an invitation for a large discussion, argument, or advice. Here is an example of small talk:

“Good morning John. Did you see the heavy construction outside?”

“No I didn’t. Where was it?”

“Near the parking garage. I think they are repaving the sidewalk.”

“That’s good. The sidewalk needs to be repaved.”

It is not an enticing conversation or one that is filled with information. In How to Talk to Anyone (2003), Lowndes described small talk as a melody. The first speaker makes a comment. The second speaker needs to listen to the words and the mood of the voice. To engage in great small talk, the second speaker will mimic that mood and continue the melody. Imagine if the second speaker did not follow the mood. Here is an example of small talk gone awry:

“Good morning John. Did you see the heavy construction outside?”

“No I didn’t. I’m too busy working on prescriptions.”

“Well, it was the parking garage. I think they are repaving the sidewalk.”

“Those construction workers better stay clear of my Corvette. Where are they?”

The second speaker did not sound happy and already created tension in the work environment. Who would want to work with a colleague like him?

Rule 4: Be a broken record to stop the conversation.

Previously, I wrote not to discuss personal matters at work. Once personal matters find its way into the workplace, gossip is easily born. Gossip is an unsubstantiated story based on loose facts and people’s opinions. Although gossip may be fun as juveniles, we are healthcare professionals and should uphold higher standards of workplace etiquette. Gossip wastes time and energy and is a form of slander. It should not be started or be allowed to spread. Lowndes explained that by talking like a broken record, the rumormonger will have no choice but to end the gossip. Here is an example:

“Hey Jill! Did you hear about Dr. Johnson and the ICU nurse?”

“No. I did not.”

“Well, they were getting busy if you know what I mean. In the closet!”

“No. I do not.”

“Oh c’mon! I know you know Dr. Johnson. What do you know?”

“No. I do not.”

“Really? You didn’t know about the baby? Or his divorce?”

“No. I do not.”

In reality, those who gossip do not know the real truth of the story. When they spread gossip, they are also probing for more gossip. By repeating your answer over and over again, the rumormonger will eventually give up and the conversation ends. This technique can also be used if someone is asking you private questions. If you don’t want to answer them, simply apply the “broken record” technique and the interrogation will stop.


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About the Author

Dr. Karine Wong has a 10 year history of working in hospital management and 2 years as a hospital pharmacist and outpatient pharmacist. She recently published a children's book called Don't Sit On Her available on Amazon.


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