‘Spoken With’ Or ‘Spoken To’

‘Spoken With’ Or ‘Spoken To’

The perspective of 'Spoken With' immediately brings to foray an opportunity that spells involvement, engagement, and a feeling of belonging. And these are significant contributors to the success of people, organisation, business, and customers.


Today, with digital natives occupying a larger workspace than ever before employee behaviour is undergoing a paradigm shift. HR Managers across organisations are now becoming proactive in redesigning the workplace and people strategy to adopt to the rising sea of change. Among the multiple mindset changes, a single foremost critical attribute that the young workforce brings to the table is a clear expectation. The need to be ‘Spoken With’ and not ‘Spoken To’ is indeed very critical for the success of the employees as well as the employers. This is the very foundation on which behaviour at work will thrive in the coming years. The perspective of ‘Spoken With’ immediately brings to foray an opportunity that spells involvement, engagement, and a feeling of belonging. And these are significant contributors to the success of people, organisation, business, and customers!

Having grasped the subject’s importance, let us look at a few tools that can be adopted and practised to balance, and even possibly score higher on ‘Spoken With’ culture, as compared to a ‘Spoken To’ work environment. 

The magic of active listening: A simple, yet powerful act of listening attentively with empathy goes a mile to build the strong habit of executing the art of ‘Spoken With’. Leaders must look at adopting a mindset where they genuinely want to listen with the intent of making a difference for the better.


Active listening can transform one’s ability to communicate and connect with employees at a higher pedestal, build stronger rapport, and reflect a direct impact on their well-being, motivation, and performance output. 


Managing by walking: This is a leadership behaviour trait that is highly fruitful when well performed. This tool gives you direct access into the employee’s comfort zone, and automatically establishes a platform to have conversations where you are using more of the ‘Spoken With’ approach. Take a few minutes out as a leader, walk the floor, and open a dialogue with employees – just ask; How are you? How was your weekend? How is your project progressing? Can I offer any support or assistance?


A simple touchpoint executed in this manner will greatly foster a spirit of ‘Spoken With’ and rest assured, such a practice is surely bound to impact employees positively, and they are likely to offer more of their best in return.


Ask leading questions: Every time your employee/team member asks you a question on some issue, problem, or challenge – how about you not jumping at the opportunity of providing an answer?


•  If someone says, “I am a bit stuck with this task”, you respond with a leading question, “Can you walk me through all the steps that you have taken till now to complete this task?” 

•  On getting a reply, hold for a bit and ask again, “What else can be done?"

•  Wait again after the reply and ask, “What are our other options?” 


Have your employees to speak more, and try to obtain the solution from them, and you will strongly score high on building a ‘Spoken With’ environment and contribute to developing your employees’ thinking acumen.


Pick ‘We’ over ‘I’: This is an amazing ability to possess that can potentially work fantastically well for you as a Leader to achieve the approach of practising the ‘Spoken With’ methodology. On picking this style, your communication does not come as “I need you to work on this project” but “Let us work on this project together.” With such an approach, you do not say, “You failed to do this well” but you say, “We could have done this better.” By adopting such a method of language and conversation, you make an impact where the employee never experiences the burden that they are working alone, but experience confidence with the support you provide. This helps with your employees being more innovative and forthcoming with their ideas, initiatives, and creativity.

Encourage Intrapreneurship: As a leader, it is important to set the premise of the conversation and project plan discussion. However, beyond this, one must then be open to let employees’ pick up the end-to-end ownership of the programme’s success. A powerful way to achieve this is to focus on developing a ‘spirit of intrapreneurship’ where employees take on every task/project wearing a ‘founders’ hat’. When you allow for such a culture to grow, you make a substantial contribution to let everyone know that they are ‘Spoken With’, and employees will be more committed to treat every project as their own baby and nurture it in that spirit.


It is a fact that employees are hired to contribute, and help achieve the company’s vision or an entrepreneur’s dream. It only makes sense to understand and practice various key aspects, which gets them to proactively deliver quality work, and go above and beyond their normal KRAs, while they continue to feel connected overall. The approach and tools called out above are fairly simple. However, it takes belief in the thought process of a leader to implement such initiatives at a ground level. I encourage to give the ‘Spoken With’ approach a try in all its honesty, it sure is worth its salt in millions!



Kenneth W Wheeler is VP Human Resources (L&D), LogiNext. He comes with 16 plus years of rich learning experience spread across industries. Awarded as 101 Top HR Minds (India) 2019 and a certified NLP coach, Kenneth is a well-rounded expert in Envisioning, Strategizing and Leading a robust gamut of HR and L&D framework, contributing to both MNC (Wipro) and the Start-up ecosystem (Ola, LogiNext).


0/3000 Free Article Left >Subscribe