Communication with Diplomacy

Communication with Diplomacy and Tact

Defined generally as communicating in ways that instill good feelings in others and avoid creating bad feelings, communicating with diplomacy and tact requires specific linguistic and nonlinguistic considerations.  This course on Communicating with Diplomacy and Tact takes the student through various areas of communication research most relevant to this unique communication area.  Students take a closer look at language and its specific usage and characteristics of particular nonverbal channels as a foundation for this course.

Topics on communication climate, the self and face, emotional intelligence and conflict discuss language and nonverbal communication with the general aim to instill good feelings in others and avoid creating bad feelings in each of these conceptual areas.  The course closes with two lessons on politeness, given the vital role of politeness in communicating with diplomacy and tact, and a lesson on humor, germane to a conversation on communicating with diplomacy and tact due to humor’s ability to instill good feelings in others.

Politeness subtopics include discussions of politeness and face, impoliteness, politeness and culture, and politeness and swearing.  The closing unit on humor focuses on the importance of humor in organizations and its key role in improving organizational culture; it outlines several key research studies in this area and presents these findings.  This course offers the components and considerations necessary to communicate with diplomacy and tact in an accessible and informative presentation.


This is a course on communicating with diplomacy and tact. In this course, we will be examining various communication behaviors that relate to communicating with diplomacy and tact. We first begin with some definitions. Scholars have defined communication in many ways over the years, but a good basic definition of communication is simply the sending and receiving of messages . When you want to send an impression, thought, or instruction, you encode your message in a combination of verbal and nonverbal cues. The person receiving this combination of verbal and nonverbal cues then is in the position of having to decode your message to ascertain what it is that you want that person to understand. Sometimes messages are decoded in the exact same way that they are encoded, which results in a successful communication exchange. This isn’t always the case, however. Messages are often understood in different ways than intended. In this case, messages are not decoded in a way that coincides with their encoding, or that the sender intended. This results in a less than successful communication exchange. Encoding-decoding errors are common.

Once considered to be a series of one-way events, in which one person communicates something, then the other person returns the communication according to a sort of turn-taking, like speaking, today’s communication scholars put forth a slightly different definition. Today, communication is conceptualized as the simultaneous sending and receiving of messages. This means that as you are sending messages, you are also receiving them from your audience. This then serves to inform your messaging as you adapt to the messages you are receiving from your audience. As an example, when you are telling a story, you can tell whether your audience is getting it or not by their nonverbal communication cues. As a result of what you perceive, you fine tune the way that you present your story. If you’re losing them, you might try to make it more lively or speed it up. If they are right there with you, you might elaborate certain areas a bit more for an even greater response, or perhaps stretch it out a bit. In any case, you adjust the way that you tell your story based on the feedback you receive from your audience at the moment that you are telling it. In this way, communication is simultaneously sent and received.

Before you decide to take this course, let’s take a closer look at language. Since so much of diplomacy and tact has to do with what comes out of your mouth, this seems a reasonable place to begin.

Characteristics of Language

A closer look at language reveals that it has multiple characteristics, regardless of the language that you’re speaking. Firstly, language is symbolic . This means that words are intended as representatives of ideas and things. Words are learned, and are given meaning by those who use them. But a collection of sounds that forms a word does not have any inherent meaning on its own. For example, consider a table. This is the English word for a piece of furniture that has three or more legs and a flat plane on top. In Spanish, they call this a mesa; in Italian, a tavola; in German, Der Tisch, and in every other language something else. All languages have their own word for the same item. There is nothing special about the word table. It is merely a combination of sounds that come to mean a certain thing. We could just as easily have called this thing a chorate or a gundle. In this way, the word is merely a symbol to represent a thing.

Secondly, language is also arbitrary . This is partly a function of language being symbolic. Because a word is merely a symbol, any word would be just as fine as any other — which means that it’s arbitrary. Whatever symbol is chosen is not important. What matters is that the users of the symbol understand what it means. Also, words do not generally in any way look or sound like the thing that they are intended to represent. The word table doesn’t look anything like a table. An exception to this is onomatopoeia, where words are intentionally derived in attempted replication of the sounds they make. Examples are meowsquish, and splash.

The third characteristic of language is that it is rule governed . You may not realize your language has a lot of rules until someone violates one. For example, in English you can say the boy kicked the ball, but you can’t say the ball kicked the boy. This is because English has specific rules about subject and object positioning that, when violated, result in incomprehensibility. There are four essential rule categories for language. The first is phonology, which governs the sound system. It is here where accents reside, as well as speech impediments. The second category is semantics, which is word choice and meaning. Third is syntax, which is grammar. Syntax and semantics often go together to create meaning. For example, a well-known phrase to illustrate the interplay between syntax and semantics is colorless green dreams sleep furiously. This sentence follows the rules of syntax and is therefore grammatically correct, but breaks the rules of semantics resulting in an incorrect sentence. The reverse is also true, when the semantics holds but the syntax runs awry, as in our above example with the ball kicked the boy. Here, the semantics are fine, but the word order, the syntax, is askew which results in a grammatically incorrect sentence. The fourth rule category for language is pragmatics. This is the social function of language. Language is a social communication tool. If we lived all alone on an island with no people around, there would be no need for language. Its role is for interpersonal communication. Pragmatics governs the appropriateness of communication behaviors. For example, you wouldn’t barge into a top manager’s office demanding that she give you a certain book immediately. However, there are some relationships and situations in which this behavior would not be considered inappropriate — talking to your little brother, for example. Pragmatics is the area of language with probably the least clear rules. This is in part because pragmatic rules vary by situation, so seem to be a moving target. All languages have each of these rule areas.

Fourthly, language has layers of meaning . This means that many words have certain implications that differ from their literal meanings. A denotative meaning is the definition for a word that you will find in the dictionary. For example, consider the word car. Its literal meaning is a motorized vehicle with more than two wheels that can carry at least two people. However, car might also mean independence, freedom, or social acceptance. The ideas that the word conjures comprise its connotative meaning, and a word might have different connotations to different people.

The semantic triangle was developed to represent the relationship between words and their denotative and connotative meanings. It works like this. At one point of the triangle is the word used to explain something. At another point of the triangle is the idea in the listener’s mind what this word means. On the third point of the triangle is the actual thing itself. Triangle of meaning can help explain differences in language use and interpretation. For example, consider the word ball. If I asked 20 different people to imagine a ball, I’m probably going to hear at least 15 different types of balls as responses. I might hear golf ball, baseball, ping-pong ball, ball bearing, exercise ball, soccer ball, Nerf ball, whiffle ball, and the list goes on. This helps explain decoding that doesn’t match coding, and results in unintended communication. When asked, you to go back into the house to grab the ball and you come out with baseball, I’m confused because I wanted you to grab the dog’s ball since we are going to the dog park. But since I said park, you thought we were going to play baseball. This semantic triangle helps illustrate that meanings reside in people, not in words.

Finally, language is inherently ambiguous . Many words have multiple meanings, and many meanings depend on context. For example, if you say I saw her painting, I’m not sure if you mean a painting that she created, or if you saw her with a paintbrush in hand applying paint to some material. There are numerous examples of this, and double entendre relies on this. Also, the more concrete the word is, the less likely variation there is in its interpretation. But when we are talking about abstractions such as respect, honor, and integrity, it’s much more difficult to be completely clear.

The Power of Language


Language is incredibly powerful. The name we give something, that thing becomes. For example, if a barrel is labeled “toxic waste” and presents an image of a skull and cross bones, probably not a lot of people are going to mess with it. It might be empty, but it is treated as if it is filled with toxic waste. The same is true when we talk about people. This is why derogatory terms such as white trash and ghetto damage entire groups of people when they are casually thrown around – the name we give something, that something becomes that thing, and words often have deep connotative meanings.

Language also gives us credibility, which is the degree to which we are perceived as competent and trustworthy. Credibility empowers us. Our listeners assess our credibility by our nonverbal cues and the words we choose. If we come across as un-credible, it’s difficult for us to have power in a situation. But just as our words can reflect our self-uncertainty, our words can portray us as confident, trustworthy communicators. Politicians put great stock into giving the perception of credibility through their words, as well as through their actions.

Language can be used to entertain through humor, to show indirectness through euphemisms, to demonstrate group membership through slang, and to harm through libel and slander, and hate speech. More subtly, language can be used to create certain impressions in others’ minds about what you think and feel about them. For example, you can choose respectful language to demonstrate that you respect the person you’re speaking with, or harmful language to suggest that you do not respect or care about that person. This topic will be revisited in later chapters, but for now, it is important to recognize that the words we choose matter to our relationships and to the people who hear them.

Certain language choices lend certain impressions. For example, let us discuss the contradictor but.  Grammatically, but is used to signal a contradiction in two ideas within a single sentence. That is, the second idea contradicts the first. For example, I want to go for a walk, but it’s raining. The fact that it’s raining contradicts and conflicts with my desire to go for a walk. In fact, because it’s raining, I probably won’t go for a walk right now. The weight of this sentence is on the clause it’s raining.  This clause dominates the meaning of the sentence and overpowers the idea of wanting to go for a walk. In this way, the second clause is often the only clause that the listener hears because the use of but signals that something bigger is about to counter the first clause. If we use the example of I love you, but you smell bad, the listener only actually hears the part about smelling bad. However, we can see that if the two clauses are flipped to read you smell bad, but I love you, the smell bad part isn’t so strong.  All synonyms for but behave in the same way and have the same effect: however, on the other hand, although, etc. This is an important point when it comes to communicating with diplomacy and tact. If you use the contradictor but to follow good news and deliver less-than good news, you are not optimizing this opportunity to speak with full diplomacy and tact. Instead, you’re probably making the listener feel bad at least a little, which violates our definition of both diplomacy and tact which both require that the speaker instill good feelings in the listener. Instead, it’s important to creatively think about how you can phrase your message without resorting to this contradictor.

The second common area of word choice challenge comes in I versus you statements.  For example, the you statement would be You always leave the copier on at night because the statement begins with you as the subject. An I statement for this example would be I wish you wouldn’t leave the copier on at night.  Modern psychology generally suggests using I statements as opposed to you statements in an effort to avoid giving the sense of placing blame on the listener.  However, a steady stream of I statements can also lend the impression of self-centeredness, as everything seems to be about what I want. In short, the situation will determine which type of statement is best, but unfortunately there is no catch-all pragmatic recommendation for this situation. Statements such as Help me understand why the photo copier is left on at night, or Do you know why the photocopier’s often left on at night? or You know, leaving the photocopier on at night wastes energy and runs up the bills, can all be much more diplomatic than simply posing an I or a you statement, regardless of what comes after that, and calling it good.


Lesson Prerequisites

Linguistics, Psycho-linguistics, Psychology, Cognative Science,

Related Lessons

 LanguageNonverbal Communication

Communication Climate


Conflict and Emotional Intelligence



Other Wireless Considerations


Installed Life Cycle Costs

The cost of a wireless system is a rapidly moving target, and it can’t be said if costs are rising or falling because the equipment is getting more complex. Most people assume that a wireless LAN is less expensive than a wired LAN, yet this is not necessarily true, particularly if one considers the cost of delivering bandwidth that is equal to a wired system. Some of the costs to expect in implementing a wireless LAN system include:

Capital Costs

Cabling: Backbone cables from the computer room to the wiring room are still required with a wireless system. Some cables from the wiring rooms to wireless devices are also needed. In an existing facility, these components are likely already in place.

Wireless Access Points: The access points are the radio transmitters that are the primary components of the wireless system.

Antennae: Antennae may be part of the access point or may be separate devices.

Mounting Devices: Access points are often installed in the ceiling. Special ceiling tiles or wall mount boxes may be appropriate. In some jurisdictions there are limitations on the installation of active devices in a plenum ceiling or plenum-rated access points may be possible. The laws and building codes must be determined for each jurisdiction.

Power: The wireless access points require power. Some must be plugged into electrical outlets requiring the installation of a power outlet at each point. More commonly, the access points are powered through the Ethernet cable and power supplies are required in the wiring room. Power circuits may have to be installed for these power supplies. Individual access points do not draw much power and plug into a conventional outlet. When many pieces of equipment are installed in the wiring closet, the electrical load can accumulate from the multiple devices.

Wireless Network Interface Cards (NIC Cards): Individual computers require a circuit for connection to the wireless system called an NIC. Many laptop computers come with wireless NIC cards. If the computers do not have the cards, one will have to be purchased for each computer.


Planning Study: A survey of wireless point coverage will have to be conducted to determine the number of points and their optimal placement. Typically, this is conducted by the vendor/installer of the wireless equipment, and is part of their overall fee.

Installation: Typically, an outside vendor will install the system, although some are installed by the IT department. Usually a vendor has a contract to conduct the planning study, provide the equipment, and install the system, including access points, antenna, power and NIC cards. The vendor also performs the initial configuration and testing, and provides training.

Electrician: An electrician may be required for the power and/or data cable installation.



Wireless Systems in the Facility © 2005 IFMA Foundation

Operational and Soft Costs

User Training: Users of the system will have to be trained. A wireless LAN involves training users how to connect and log-in, otherwise computing is the same as a wired network. A PDA system with custom software could involve very elaborate training.

IT Staff Training: IT staff may need training in how to administer the system. In particular wireless LANs have unique security administration requirements that may have to be learned.

IT Staff Administration Time: The wireless network must be maintained, like all other parts of the net work. In particular the security features must be diligently maintained. Staff must also monitor the system for unauthorized intrusion. The IT staff ’s ongoing time must be apportioned to the life cycle cost of the wireless system.

Help Desk Training and Time: Part of the life cycle cost is the training of the help desk staff with part of their ongoing time apportioned to the life cycle cost of the wireless system. They will get calls when users are unable to connect to the wireless network, or when their connections drop.

The evolution of wireless systems is so fast moving that each installation can be expected to have a short life cycle before demand for a replacement or upgrade occurs. Most of the cost components will occur again with the replacement system. If a proprietary system has been installed, the life cycle can be particularly short. Proprietary systems may have to be replaced as standards-based systems emerge.

Security Issues

Security has been a weak spot in many wireless LANs, and these systems have a bad reputation for poor security. Hackers drive around and find corporate LANs to tap into from their cars. There is underground information about how to tap into free wireless networks. The unsecured networks of organizations do more than open the Internet to outsiders, they also open the organization’s servers and data stores to outsiders as well.

Reasonably comprehensive security features are now built into many new wireless systems. But even the
most secure wireless systems can still be broken into by a very skilled hacker. The biggest security problem traditionally is that organizations do not implement the security features that they have. The security
features must be implemented, maintained and used. If a system with elaborate security features is purchased, and those features are not turned on, then the enterprise systems are at definite risk of intrusion. Such maintenance typically falls to IT as part of LAN administration and the facility manager has little involvement. A typical office worker today with a wireless card in a computer in a multi-tenant building

can access one or more unsecured LANs of other tenants. One would think that all the publicity about underground access to wireless networks would make organizations more security conscious, but this has been slow to develop.

Another common type of problem occurs when employees install unauthorized wireless equipment on networks. Often, when this is done, the security features are not turned on, creating a large network security gap. It is not uncommon for networks to have wireless equipment that IT does not know about. Some IT departments now have technology for detecting unauthorized devices. The facility manager who often tours the facility more than IT staff may be in a position to be more aware of unauthorized systems. The facility manager would well serve the organization by having a collaborative relationship with IT and informing the department of unauthorized devices.


© 2005 IFMA Foundation Wireless Systems in the Facility 21

Bluetooth devices are not immune to security problems and it is possible for unauthorized devices to access Bluetooth equipment. PDAs are subject to security issues and viruses. PDAs are also easily lost or stolen and if unsecured, can provide a path into the network. A stolen PDA may have local unsecured data that could be accessed. PDA systems can use encryption and connect to the facility network via a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for added security.

Health Effects

Wireless is the transmission of information via electromagnetic waves. Are these fields harmful to health? Research is inconclusive, but little impact has been found. We are all subject to low-level electromagnetic fields every day. Our local AM and FM radio stations are bombarding us with a wireless signal all the time. Standing next to a refrigerator or large electric motor subjects one to a greater electromagnetic field than a wireless LAN.

Cell phones are a particular concern, because the phone is held right next to the brain for a prolonged period of time. Research is inconclusive on this matter. Still the possibility of a problem with cell phones exists and radio waves were recently announced as a treatment for some brain problems, so there can be an impact. Radio frequency energy at higher levels than is found in wireless systems can be dangerous. Some argue that since we are unsure about the impact, exposure should be limited, particularly in children.

The preponderance of evidence since 2000 shows no adverse health effects from low level radio frequency waves. However the possibility of some impact particularly from cell phones, has not been completely ruled out. Direct exposure to high power microwave radiation may be a problem, and a microwave transmitter should not be installed close to occupied space. Both the Federal Communications Commission and OSHA in the United States have formulas to calculate the safe distance.


The biggest challenge with wireless is to look ahead. Wireless technology is developing quickly and there are many complex forces shaping its future. The facility manager must be prepared for the future, yet the future evolution of wireless systems is not clear. We have made educated projections about how it will impact the facility, but this could change rapidly. Facility managers should keep up with new developments in this area. It is also important to not get caught up in the hype involved with wireless.

Wireless can be a fantastic business asset, but its limitations must be admitted. There will be a role for wired infrastructure for some time. Keeping up with the evolution of wireless standards is also important, as organizations are always better off with standards based-systems.

Giving Feedback

Giving feedback to someone is a “moment of trust” – an opportunity to either build or erode trust in the relationship. If you deliver the feedback with competence and care, the level of trust in your relationship can leap forward. Fumble the opportunity and you can expect to lose trust and confidence in your leadership.

For most leaders, giving feedback is not our most pleasurable task. Having been on both sides of the conversation, giving feedback and receiving it, I know it can be awkward and uncomfortable. However, I’ve also come to learn and believe that people not only need to hear the honest truth about their performance, they deserve it. Most people don’t go to work in the morning and say to themselves, “I can’t wait to be a poor performer today!” We do a disservice to our people if we don’t give them candid and caring feedback about their performance.

The key to giving feedback that builds trust rather than destroys it is to have a plan in place and a process to follow. You want people to leave the feedback discussion thinking about how they can improve, not focused on how you handled the discussion or made them feel.

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.      ~Maya Angelou

Before Giving Feedback

Before you have the feedback discussion, it’s important to do three things:

  1. Assess the quality of your relationship – What is the level of trust and mutual respect in your relationship? If the level of trust is low, work on building it. If there has been a specific breach of trust, work on healing the relationship before giving feedback. If the feedback receiver doesn’t trust and respect you, your message will be perceived as one more way “you’re out to get them.”
  2. Diagnose the situation and clarify your motives – Clarifying your motive for giving feedback and the results you want to achieve will help you give the right kind of feedback. Is your motive to simply give information and let the receiver decide what to do with it, or are you making a request or demand and expecting the receiver to do something different? Be clear on the outcome you’re trying to achieve, otherwise your feedback will be muddled and ineffective.
  3. Make sure there is/was clear agreements about goals, roles, and expectations – Did you fulfill your leadership obligations by setting the person up for success with a clear goal? If the goal isn’t/wasn’t clear, then reset or renegotiate the goal. If circumstances beyond the employee’s control have changed to inhibit goal achievement, work on removing those obstacles, revisit the goal, or engage in problem solving.

Feedback Guidelines

When you have the feedback discussion, you’ll be much more successful if you follow these guidelines:

  1. Give feedback on behaviors that can be changed, not on traits or personality – Behavior is something you can see someone doing or hear someone saying. Telling someone they need to be more professional, flexible, or reliable is not helpful feedback because it’s judgmental, nonspecific, and would likely create defensiveness. Being specific about the behaviors the person needs to use to be professional, flexible, or reliable will give the receiver a clear picture of what he/she needs to do differently.
  2. Be specific and descriptive; don’t generalize – Because giving feedback can be uncomfortable and awkward, it’s easy to soft pedal it or beat around the bush. Think of giving feedback as the front page newspaper article, not the editorial. Provide facts, not opinions or judgments.
  3. Be timely – Ideally, feedback should be delivered as close as possible to the time of the exhibited behavior. With the passage of time, perceptions can change, facts and details can be forgotten, and the likelihood of disagreement about the situation increases. Above all, don’t save up negative feedback for a quarterly or yearly performance review. Blasting someone with negative feedback months after the fact is leadership malpractice.
  4. Control the context – Timing is everything! I’ve been married for over 28 years and I’ve learned (the hard way) the value of this truth. Choose a neutral and comfortable setting, make sure you have plenty of time for the discussion, be calm, and pay attention to your body language and that of the receiver. Don’t let your urgent need to deliver the feedback overrule common sense. Find the right time and place to deliver the feedback and the receiver will be more receptive to your message.
  5. Make it relevant and about moving forward – Rehashing or dwelling on past behavior that isn’t likely to recur erodes trust and damages the relationship. Keep the feedback focused on current events and problem solving strategies or action plans to improve performance. Staying forward-focused also makes the conversation more positive in nature because you’re looking ahead to how things can be better, not looking back on how bad they’ve been.

Along with these five guidelines, it’s important to solicit input from the feedback receiver to hear his/her viewpoint. You may be surprised to learn new facts or gain a better understanding of the story behind the situation at hand. Don’t presume to know it all when having the feedback discussion.

Giving feedback doesn’t have to be scary and painful. Most people know if they’ve messed up or are falling short in a certain area, even if they don’t like to admit it. The way in which the leader delivers the feedback can have more impact than the feedback itself. You can deliver the message in such a way that your people leave the meeting committed to improving their performance because they know you care about them and their success, or your delivery can cause them to leave feeling wounded, defeated, and less engaged than when they arrived. Which will it be?

It’s your moment of trust. Carpe Momentum! Seize the moment!

Avoid the “Messenger Mindset”

It’s important to learn to avoid the “Messenger Mindset!”  We need to focus on what the message does more than what the message is.

So often in preparing to communicate, we make a fundamental mistake: we enter a messenger mindset. Rather than establishing a clear goal and aiming to persuade our audience, we set out to inform, to update, to share. On this path, we end our inquiry with a period: here’s what I need to say, full stop.

But what happens if, instead of a period, we use a comma and a question mark? Here’s what I need to say, what will my audience think of it? What do I want them to think? How do I use my skills to persuade them? What is the larger context in which this meeting is taking place?

To communicate, we need empathy. We need to understand our audience and be aware of their goals and constraints. We need to be able to understand that communication isn’t a one-way flow of information, but a dialogue — conceptually, if not literally. We need curiosity: What can your audience tell you about themselves? And how difficult is the challenge facing us? After all, there’s a difference between asking someone to support a small change that requires little investment and an incremental shift in mindset and asking for thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in budget and a major change in strategy.

And we need to know ourselves. How equipped are we to meet the challenge before us? Over years of coaching executive clients, I’ve learned that skill in communication isn’t a binary of good and bad, and it isn’t an immutable trait. It is a path of skill accumulation, and, with practice, anyone can move up the path toward the highest levels. At my company, we break down these skill levels into three general groups:

• Good communicators, or what my company calls those at Professional Standard, deliver information in a clear, concise way.

• Very good communicators, or those at Leadership Standard, forge a connection with their audience and makes them care.

• The best communicators, Executive Standard, not only make their audience care, but compel them to act. These speakers can consistently persuade their audience to give them that budget, to change that strategy, to look at that problem in a new way.

So how do you break out of the messenger mindset and set off down the path of persuasive speaking?

First, make sure that you are approaching communication with the right attitude — one that recognizes that every communication is an opportunity to persuade.

Second, make a commitment to the process. Take the time you need to practice your skills as a speaker, and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.

Third, seek out learning opportunities. Volunteer to speak in meetings. Ask for feedback (and give feedback in return). Find a mentor.

The challenge might seem overwhelming. But, like any complex skill, effective communication isn’t monolithic; it is an accumulation of smaller skill sets, each of which can be understood and practiced on its own.

Communication Styles to Avoid

Communication Styles to Avoid

Very negative.
Seeing things in black and white, and blowing things out of proportion. The glass for this person is usually half empty as they dwell heavily on the worst possible outcome. They “should” on others, placing expectations of how their colleagues “should” be, thereby limiting their ability to accept others how they are, leading to negativity and the tendency to criticize.

Very demanding.
These low EQ peers or managers will want things their way without consulting with others. They have narrow-minded expectations — should I say ‘false expectations’? — that cloud a sense of reality and sabotage work processes.

Very judgmental.
What a judgmental attitude will do is alienate colleagues at work. The best solution for this individual, if they’re open to shifting and self-awareness, is to stop jumping to conclusions before hearing all the facts, and start listening intently to improve his communication skills. If this is you, remember this: When we judge, we invite judgment upon ourselves.

Very obsessed.
Do you work with or for someone unable to budge or view things differently? Do they persevere relentlessly about something that is out of their control? Take note: This obsessed person can wreak havoc in the workplace and bring a team down.

Very intolerant.
This is a colleague or manager having a need to have things the way they “should be.” They find it difficult to have patience and tolerance for differences that don’t fit with their ideal needs and expectations.

Very perfectionistic.
Having a need to be “right” and not make mistakes, as that would mean one is inferior or a failure; having permeating low self-esteem.

Very indecisive.
The inability to make decisions, especially when it counts, hurts the team. These people may suffer from “analysis paralysis.” They think too much, get stuck in their heads and intellectualize things too much. Learning to use their intuition and go with their “gut” is a much more effective way to make decisions than to get stuck in analysis paralysis. It’s empowering, and peers and colleagues will look at them in a whole new way.1