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The Problem to the Answer - Bent Ericksen ... 1976, Deceptive Bends • Contributed by: Adrienne Wright. Adrienne is a Bent Ericksen & Associates consultant, located in Ohio. Adrienne

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  • FALL 2013

    H u m a n Resources Newsletter

    N EW


    B O P




    Bent Ericksen & Associates

    Communication: The Problem to the Answer

    Article continues on page 2

    Q: I live in Oregon. My colleague tells me that I will soon have to provide bereavement leave to my employees. This is not something I’ve provided in the past. When will this be in effect? How much leave do I have to provide?

    Q + A

    ANSWER: The new law, to which your colleague refers, expands the current Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) which applies to employers with 25 or more employees working in Oregon during each working day of 20 or more calendar workweeks in the year in which leave will be taken, or in the preceding year. Certain eligibility requirements apply. Eligible employees may take up to two weeks of unpaid leave per death of a family member up to a maximum of 12 weeks in a 12-month period to make arrangements necessitated by the death, to attend the funeral or memorial service, or to grieve. Family members are defined as the employee’s spouse, same-sex domestic partner, child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, or grandchild, or the same relations of an employee's same-sex domestic partner or spouse. This expansion is effective January 1, 2014.

    Contributed by Adrienne Wright

    Recently I was on a flight to a business meeting in another state. By the time my seat mate boarded, I had my carryon stowed, my book out, and was engrossed in my latest “who-dun it” novel. I couldn’t help but notice during the 2-1/2 hour flight how fidgety my seat mate was, and that each time the flight attendant came past our row, he would stop her to ask how much longer until we reached our destination. My subconscious reaction was one of, “Are you kidding me? He’s wear- ing a watch….doesn’t he know what time we are due to land?”

    It wasn’t until our plane had been cleared to land, and we had received the infamous “tray tables up, seat backs in their upright position” that I even made eye contact with him. He began to relay that this was the first time he had ever flown. He, his wife and two young children were on a family vacation. His family was seated together in a different row, but there had not been an avail- able seat near them for him. He explained that he was trying to be very calm, especially in front of his children, but he was ter-

    rified. He went on to say that he had watched me during the flight to gauge if the flight was going smoothly, or if there was a cause for concern. He explained that since I didn’t seem to be worried about the small amount of turbu- lence we experienced, then every- thing must be “okay.”

    For the next 20 minutes or so, we had a great conversation about his business, his kids, what they planned to do and see while on their vacation. Once we landed (safe and sound), he thanked me over and over for listening to him and helping to take his mind off his fear. What I attempted to avoid during the biggest portion of this flight (communication with my seat mate), turned out to be a very enjoyable experience. I shared this experience with a friend later, and as I recounted the experience, I couldn’t help but wonder how many opportunities to communi- cate (and learn) do we miss as we go through our day-to-day routine? George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Between the telephone, our cell phone,

    fax machines, texting, Facebook, Twitter and all the various outlets of social media, e-mail, and lest we forget—snail mail, it seems we are always “plugged in.” In addi- tion, there is body language and the various forms of non-verbal communication: Crossing the arms, closing off the stance, lean- ing in, nodding our heads, rolling of the eyes, smiling and frown- ing. Isn’t it interesting, that even though we have more methods to connect than ever before, clear and effective communication remains a challenge?

    Regardless of the myriad of ways and means to connect, the fact remains, when most busi- ness leaders are asked “what is the single, largest challenge your organization consistently faces today?” the vast majority will narrow it down to “communica- tion,” or more accurately, “the LACK of effective communica- tion.” This theme seems to echo throughout the business world, no matter the size of the organiza- tion—whether there be 5 employ- ees, or 500 employees. We may be “plugged in” but are we truly com- municating or simply “tuned out”?

  • Continued from from page 1

    The BOP Newsletter is published quarterly by Bent Ericksen & Associates, P.O. Box 10542, Eugene, OR 97440. Copyright © 2013, all rights reserved. No part may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of Bent Ericksen & Associates. Printed in the U.S.A. Subscription rate: $125 per year (no charge for Bent Ericksen clients on Annual Support Agreements). Editorial Staff: Michelle Allen, Rebecca Crane, Joanne Gains, Frank Hotchkiss, Tim Twigg

    BOP “Bent-on-Personnel” Quarterly HR Newsletter This newsletter, which was specifically prepared by the editorial staff of Bent Ericksen & Associates, is not designed to render legal advice or legal opinion. Such advice may only be given by a licensed, practicing attorney, and only when related to actual fact situations. For client service, order information, questions, comments, or materials for inclusion contact:

    Bent Ericksen & Associates PO Box 10542, Eugene, OR, 97440 800/679-2760 or visit our web site at


    BOP NEWS—FALL 2013


    Webster defines communica- tion as: a process by which infor- mation is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. Take a moment and reflect on the conversations that you have had in which a relation- ship was strengthened, enriched, or led to a greater understand- ing between the two persons involved. Or, perhaps, the conver- sation did not go so well, and the relationship became strained, or worse, broken. Is there anything we have in our lives that can be more rewarding once achieved- -or more frustrating when not achieved….(other than our golf game) than communication?

    Communication is rooted in the words commune, communion, community, common union…it happens when there is a common union of thought, community, or a sharing of thought and ideas. This means, there must be a “give and take” process set into motion. By the very definition of communica- tion, the word “exchange” is a key factor. When we “exchange” something, in a department store for instance, we give an item, and receive another item in return. An exchange in conversation is, I listen to you, you listen to me. Many times, we walk away from the “exchange” with something in our possession that we value more than what we started with, whether it’s a new idea, a clearer

    understanding of a situation or just the feeling of helping some- one by being there to listen.

    Many times we deal with coworkers or customers who show the same type of behavior as those exhibited by my seat mate on that flight─nervous, unsure, scared, overly chatty, fidgety, and perhaps even on edge, rude and anxious. The reward for taking the time and energy to focus on these exchanges may range from successfully preventing reac- tionary conflicts, to increased employee engagement or perhaps overall higher morale.

    Body language and non-verbal communication may be a more subtle form of communication, but can be just as powerful. For instance, rolling of the eyes or nodding the head in agreement. Think of the times that perhaps you and your significant other have attended a party and been in a room with many other people. The two of you make eye contact from across the room and know what the other is thinking just by a smile or look on your face. For those of us old enough (and fortu- nate enough) to have experienced

    the comedic expertise of Johnny Carson, you know exactly how effective body language is. If you have opportunity to watch old “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” film clips, observe his interaction with the camera. His looks can speak volumes! There was no one better at listening and responding with non-verbal com- munication than Mr. Carson.

    Whatever the method and form of communication we choose to use, one fact remains constant—we all want and need to be validated, heard and under- stood. Oprah Winfrey, the Queen of daytime talk shows, once com- mented that the common question each of her guests always asked once the cameras were off was “was that okay?” This was true from the President of the United States, to the most heinous crimi- nal behind bars. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if you agree with me, but please hear me.

    It is up to us, as leaders in our businesses or organizations, even us as the leader of our own life, to make certain our communica- tion skills are finely tuned. It is our responsibility to develop and

    implement the protocols and pro- cedures that are needed to assure that those around us hear us, and in turn, feel heard and valued. The old adage “I know what I said, but I do not know what you heard” is so very true.

    At times it is much harder to listen than to speak. Volumes of books have been written and hours of lectures and seminars are presented each year on being an active listener.