The secrets of civil skepticism at your workplace

skiptismShow respect: A workplace cannot operate without a culture of respect that extends up, down and across every level of the corporation. Every person has demands on his or her time. Reflect respect in setting appointments, being on time, and addressing co-workers. Always remember to say please and thank you, and if you make a mistake, apologize sincerely and immediately.

Choose the right setting: In these overly public days, when we are privy to the phone calls of passing strangers and intimate details of acquaintances on the Internet, privacy seems a thing of the past. And yet, privacy is essential for detailed questioning, challenging and certainly criticizing. Find a room, close the door, and turn off your phone. Privacy encourages candor and reduces noisy distractions that can impede information gathering.

Tame your tone: An accusatory, disbelieving or sarcastic tone of voice will sabotage your efforts every time. Practice speaking in an unemotional tone (as if you were saying “It’s raining”) until you can ask hard questions this way. This extends to non-verbal communication at jobs place.

Beware the “but bomb: The more diplomatic yet helps me remember that the other person probably does not want to hear what I am about to say. It also helps me keep my temper and ego in check, which is essential when I need to see the big picture.

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