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Masked Messages

March 26, 2015

By Jeanine Izzo

Masked Messages with Copyright

The physical masks that we wear as part of a costume are intended to send a visual message as a form of celebration and entertainment.  They are a way to disguise who we are in a fun, lighthearted way.  When we wear a physical mask, we know it’s there because we chose it and put it on purposefully.

The masked messages sent in the workplace are not deliberate.  They are the product of being too busy and moving too quickly to realize how our actions may be perceived by others.   Some behaviors may have an unintentional negative impact which can cause others to disengage with the sender.

This type of communication can be deceivingly damaging to individuals, teams and work products because it can be very difficult to pinpoint it as the cause of decreased functionality.  For example, let’s take the behavior of scheduling and accepting meetings and then repeatedly canceling, showing up late or not showing up at all.  If you are the one exhibiting these actions (the sender), you know you are choosing other events and tasks over these previously scheduled meetings with good reason.  However, if you are the receiver, you are made to feel like your time, your work, is less important.  As the impact adds up over repeated occurrences, meetings may be taken less seriously, attendees may be less prepared, relationships may become strained and progress may slow.

In the example above, the masked message being communicated is My time is worth more than yours.  There are many more examples of seemingly harmless behavior having a real impact on peers, direct reports, team members and departments.    Can you imagine purposefully sending messages like the following?

  • I have all the time in the world
  • I don’t care about results
  • Late is great
  • I don’t value you
  • I like stress
  • Complaining is productive

Without having the description of the associated behavior, you can probably easily come up with someone that is sending one or more of these messages.  It’s much easier to recognize when other people are passing along unproductive messages and much more difficult to determine which ones we are sending.

Forward Moving Tips:

To get more in touch with your action based messages…

  1. Think about how your actions may be perceived by others
  2. Ask for feedback from those most likely to be impacted
  3. Adjust your behavior to align with your intended messages

For assistance with moving forward with more focus, confidence and success along your journey,  Contact Viage Partners today.

Note:  The topic of this article is part of a speaking topic offered by Viage Partners titled “Masked Messages:  Communication by Default.”

© Viage Partners 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Viage Partners with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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