Many of us underestimate the impact of workplace conversations on our mood, productivity, and general sense of well-being. If you love your job, you might think of workplace conversations as simply the cherry on the cake. If you hate your job, you might think of your workplace interactions as necessary evils that you have to put up with.
But it turns out that workplace conversations make up most of our day-to-day interactions for quite a few of us. A recent study out of Gallup found that half of all full-time employees work more than 40 hours per week in the United States. Nearly four in ten employees work at least 50 hours a week. Altogether, the average US employee is working 47 hours a week, which equates to roughly six full days per week.
A lot of the time we have left over is spent commuting, running errands, and sleeping. So that means that of the 16,000 words that we use every day, most of them are being spoken at work.
Words Have Power
Positive interactions have been shown to have a lasting impact upon mood. If your day is filled with positive, productive conversations, you’re much more likely to be satisfied with your job and a loyal and productive employee. But many conversations miss the mark. When managers and coworkers lack conversational intelligence, it can have a terrible effect on workplace culture.
Consider the ladder of conclusions. On the first rung of the ladder, before we even begin a conversation, our bodies will react to the people we’re about to interact with. Within .07 seconds, our brains will release either cortisol (the stress hormone) or oxytocin (the trust hormone). On the next rung of the ladder, these initial reactions can be overcome depending upon how the interaction proceeds. We quickly develop feelings about the conversation, labeling it in our brains is either good or bad and the person we’re speaking with as either a friend or foe. Moving up the ladder, we will start to form beliefs about the person we’re interacting with, and those beliefs will eventually harden into lasting conclusions.
Think about your interactions with your coworkers. Based on your past experiences with them, what conclusions do you think they’ve drawn about you? What conclusions have you drawn about them? How many of those conclusions do you honestly believe are accurate, and how many might be the result of misinterpreted or poorly handled conversations?