Risk vs Reward in Conversations

March 18, 2019

Take the leap in a challenging conversation, the reward may surprise you.

My personal example and a challenge to you!

Communication challenges have been around as long as, well, spoken language. That’s a long time.  You think we would have perfected it by now. However, there are as many communication styles as there are, well, people communicating!

We all know that if you ask people what their top five challenges are when working with others, communication will be in that list.  In addition, public speaking (a form of communication) is listed among the top fears of people.

So how do we address it? After all, effective communication is critical.

There are lots of classes and articles on this topic – too many to list here. When I was reading a CATALYST VetPC blog on communication, it reminded me of an incident in my former small animal veterinary practice many years ago.

My Situation

When I would walk around the veterinary clinic, I would be processing the next task in my brain to see if it was the most important one to do next, and what supplies were required to accomplish it.  My mind was constantly circling around the jobs that needed completing.

One day a co-worker came up to me and asked me if I was mad at her.angry lady

I was shocked! Why would she think this? Of course not! I wasn’t even thinking of her!

Then she pointed out that I had a frown / scowl on my face and I must have glanced in her direction in passing.  She pointed out to me what I couldn’t see! When I was processing information, I scrunched my brow, with the result being that I looked like I was mad.

I think back at what courage it took for her to approach me.  It could have been risky for her as I was the senior technician and her immediate supervisor. Yet her timing, body language, tone and chosen words were all appropriate when she confronted me.

After that, I was more aware of my facial “language” and raised my eyebrows, especially around other people in the clinic.

It also became a running joke! She would ask me what task I was thinking about! The reward was we ended up having fun with the way I processed information in my head. We also shared it with the entire staff (there were only eight of us) so that everyone could understand the “joke.”

What would have happened if she hadn’t mentioned that to me?  She would have continued to think that I was mad at her. I would have continued to be clueless about the body language I was portraying. We would have a mis-communication without saying a word!


There are many factors that combine to create communication: tone, choice of words, emotions, body language, and yes, listening!

My challenge to you is to pick one thing and work on it.  And you may not even know what it is!

Here’s the difficult part.  Step out of your comfort zone and ask a co-worker or two what they think might be a deterrent in your communication style.

This may not be comfortable for either one of you as it depends on the culture that has been established. Use this blog to get the conversation started!

click for a PDF version: Risk vs Reward Blog

This type of vulnerability is what will allow people to grow both personally and professionally. It is necessary to keep moving in a positive direction when talking to others. Take the challenge to refine one aspect of your personal communication style. You may be surprised when the reward outweighs the risk!

headshot of Denise MikitaHere’s to self-awareness,

Denise Mikita, MS, CVT