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Navigating Communication Challenges in Quality-Driven Environments [Lesley Worthington]

Lesley Worthington July 3, 2024

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Yan Kugel⁠ is joined by Lesley Worthington, a communication and leadership coach for quality professionals. Together, they discussed the significance of interpersonal skills in the realm of quality assurance within the pharmaceutical industry. Lesley emphasizes that communication and interpersonal skills are often overlooked but are crucial for quality professionals. Technical knowledge is important, but it must be balanced with strong interpersonal skills to excel in the quality assurance field.

Lesley’s Journey to Communication Coaching

Lesley’s journey to becoming a communication coach for quality professionals was not a direct path. With a background in law and experience as a quality assurance and regulatory affairs manager for medical devices in Canada, she transitioned into coaching quality professionals on their communication and leadership skills. Her unique perspective and expertise provide valuable insights into navigating challenges and fostering collaboration within quality-driven environments.

The Importance of Interpersonal Skills for Quality Professionals

Lesley emphasizes that communication and interpersonal skills are often overlooked but are crucial for quality professionals. Technical knowledge is important, but it must be balanced with strong interpersonal skills to excel in the quality assurance field. Quality professionals need to communicate with various stakeholders, and their ability to build relationships and communicate effectively is vital for success in their role.

Overcoming Resistance and Building Trust

  • Clarity in thinking and communication is important in overcoming resistance.
  • Building trust through empathy and understanding the other person’s world is crucial.

Anticipating Objections and Building Relationships

  • Anticipating objections and being prepared for difficult conversations is essential.
  • Building relationships is a long-term process that requires intentional planning and attention to the needs and motivations of others.

Preparing for Important Meetings

Lesley recommends the following steps for preparing for important meetings:

  1. Make notes on what you want to achieve.
  2. Understand the person you will be meeting with.
  3. Anticipate possible objections and be prepared to address them.
  4. Pay attention to what happens and make notes afterwards to improve future interactions.


In conclusion, the significance of interpersonal skills in quality assurance cannot be overstated. Building strong relationships, communicating effectively, and understanding the needs of others are essential for success in the pharmaceutical industry. By prioritizing these skills and being intentional in their interactions, quality professionals can foster collaboration and drive positive change within their organizations.

Episode Chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Resistance and the need for clarity and trust – 0:00 to 4:22
  • Chapter 2: Importance of sales and negotiation skills in career growth – 4:23 to 9:51
  • Chapter 3: Building relationships and understanding people – 9:52 to 15:20
  • Chapter 4: Impact of social media on empathy and parenting – 15:21 to 23:45
  • Chapter 5: The influence of technology on young minds and the role of parents – 23:46 to 28:12
  • Chapter 6: Assistance with training in writing clear SOPs and communication – 28:13 to 31:40

Podcast transcript:

Please be advised that this is an AI generated transcript and may contain errors.

00:27 – 01:08
Yan Kugel: Welcome to our podcast episode focusing on the significance of interpersonal skills in the realm of quality assurance within the pharmaceutical industry. Today we have a special guest, Leslie Worthington, a communication and leadership coach for quality professionals, who is joining us to share valuable insights and expertise on how enhancing communication and building strong relationships can lead to the successful development of quality culture. Leslie’s experience and guidance provide a unique perspective on navigating challenges and fostering collaboration within quality-driven environments. So Leslie, welcome to the Quality Talks podcast. It’s great to have you here.

01:08 – 01:09
Lesley Worthington: Thanks for having me, Yan.

01:10 – 01:21
Yan Kugel: Always a pleasure. Always a pleasure. So tell me, Leslie, how did it come to be that you came to be a communication coach for the quality professionals?

01:22 – 02:08
Lesley Worthington: By accident, pretty much. So it’s been a bit of a winding journey. I started off weirdly in law and then became a quality assurance and regulatory affairs manager myself for about 20 years in medical devices in Canada. And then at some point, I started getting a bit bored and I drifted into working with non-native English speakers who work in quality to improve their English communication skills. And then, due to repeated requests, I decided it actually made more sense to get myself qualified as an executive coach so then I did that. So now what I do is

02:08 – 02:36
Lesley Worthington: I coach quality people of any language, of any industry really, on their communication and leadership skills so that they can do whatever they need to do at work better. And more often than not, what that really ends up meaning is that I’m helping people figure out how to build and improve their quality culture, because that’s typically the biggest challenge most quality people have.

02:36 – 03:27
Yan Kugel: Yes, Leslie. So that’s great to hear. So I know that we did several webinars together on various topics from writing SOPs to communication with leadership And we had so many attendees who were so interested in this topic because I think it has been touched very little during quality professionals, world in pharma, medical devices. It’s more the writing skills or just knowing the SOPs, the technical skills, but less of the communication part. So why do you think that interpersonal skills are so important, especially for quality professionals and why it’s been overlooked?

03:29 – 04:05
Lesley Worthington: Why it’s been overlooked, I’m not sure. I think it’s just, I think communication skills and interpersonal skills are just overlooked generally. On our report cards all the way from kindergarten all the way through, it says, you know, communication skills, organizational skills, all these things, and they just get like scores like need improvement, good, excellent. They don’t get like grades like math and geography and science. And so for some reason, we don’t think they’re that important. And then we get into the real world and we go, Oh, my god, these soft skills are important. So for quality

04:05 – 04:50
Lesley Worthington: assurance people, they’re even more important because quality assurance people, it’s quality assurance is 1 of the few roles in the company where the person has to be able to communicate with everyone. Upper management, operations, other department heads, people working in the office, marketing, you know, R&D, people in the lab, everyone. And so this means almost everything in their role comes down to their ability to build relationships and their ability to communicate well. So Yes, of course you have to know what you’re doing. You have to have that technical knowledge, which I would call maybe the hard

04:50 – 05:31
Lesley Worthington: skills. That’s traditionally what that’s called. But that’s not enough. You have to balance that out with your interpersonal skills because ultimately we’re really only as good as our interpersonal skills. You know, if you’re off the charts 11 out of 10 with your technical skills, you’re top of the class, you’ve got tons of experience and lots of education, that’s great. But if your communication skills are only at a 2, that’s where you’re going to end up being. So it really limits us. And so I think that’s why it’s so important. And I don’t know why it’s overlooked

05:31 – 05:34
Lesley Worthington: so much, but I’m hoping to change that.

05:36 – 05:49
Yan Kugel: And do you feel that a lot of people working in quality have their communication skill on a lower level, like closer to 2 than to 10, would you say?

05:50 – 06:26
Lesley Worthington: Maybe lower than other industries because most people who end up in quality roles are more on the science engineering sort of side of things. And people, you know, when they’re in high school thinking what am I gonna do in university the good writers and communicators and they they don’t go for the sciences typically they’re like oh I want to go and do science now I’m not that good at writing and speaking and all this other stuff. So I think it ends up attracting people who communication is not their forte. They’d rather be back in the lab

06:26 – 06:41
Lesley Worthington: being innovative and doing all these other things. And the communication part is not in the front of their mind until they get, you know, to a certain place in their career and then they go, oh my God, I’ve neglected this.

06:42 – 07:31
Yan Kugel: Right, right. So I recall this from the personality test that were done in the company where I worked back then. And most of the people in quality were introverts. And it is known that introverts are happily stay more on their own, they’re less the party people. And although you cannot say that all introverts have bad communication skills, which is not true, but they have been more shy throughout their life to really develop those skills as much maybe as extroverts who do a lot of talking and they really understand maybe more the psychology of people, how to

07:31 – 08:18
Yan Kugel: converse. And I do believe that this also very important for, the quality to invest in those personal skills because quality, a lot of the time, as we said it before, is sometimes seen as the police because they uphold the law, the regulatory law inside the company. They change the SOPs, they audit the departments. And unless you know how to communicate with the people and create a very nurturing quality environment, you get a lot of hostility and pushback, right? From the other departments. So Do you feel this is the situation in many companies?

08:19 – 08:49
Lesley Worthington: Yeah, you said a couple of things I wanted to pick up on. You know, the fact that there happen to be a lot of introverts in this space, and believe it or not, I consider myself an introvert actually. And, you know, communication is just like any other skill. It’s just a skill. But if we don’t practice it, we’re not going to get good at it. And so if you’re an introvert, you’re probably not practicing it as much as an extrovert. So that’s 1 of the reasons why probably the skills are not as strong for a lot

08:49 – 09:38
Lesley Worthington: of quality people. In terms of the resistance, yeah, like there’s, you know, the perception of we’re just there to find problems. We’re just there to keep us on the straight and narrow. There’s this, I guess, this perception that we’re there just for the sake of compliance or something like that. And the job really is to change that perception so that we are not seen the way we currently are, right? So I think this resistance, like the resistance is big. Resistance from everyone, right? Resistance from the top, resistance from the bottom, resistance from the side. People just

09:38 – 10:16
Lesley Worthington: like find the quality people to be like a pain. You’re slowing us down. You’re costing us money. Like this is sort of the perception. And the problem too is that we’re not the boss, usually, of anyone. We’re not the direct boss of anyone. So here we are, not their direct boss, telling them to do things or hoping that they do things. And so we’re in a really tough situation where we don’t really have formal authority over a lot of the people. And so there’s resistance from that too. So I think though that the resistance really comes

10:16 – 10:31
Lesley Worthington: from 2 main things, like a lack of clarity and a lack of trust. And I think those are the 2 things that quality people really need to work on. Getting more trust and getting more clarity.

10:33 – 10:39
Yan Kugel: Right. And how should they do it? What should be the steps for them to achieve that?

10:39 – 11:22
Lesley Worthington: Yeah, like both of those things, clarity and trust are so complex. They’re so complex. Entire books have been written on each of those things. But really, both of them, this, it comes down to good communication and good relationships, right? Those 2 things. If we can have good communication and good relationships, we can build trust and we can have clarity. So working on the relationships and understanding some basics about how we communicate is a starting point. So to build trust, you have to allow yourself to be known. And this is hard for people. They just want to

11:22 – 12:01
Lesley Worthington: be the professional, right? But you have to allow yourself to be known. How often do we trust someone we don’t know? Right? If we don’t know someone, we don’t trust them. So we have to allow ourselves to be known. And trust also has to do, though, with our credibility and knowing what we’re doing and people feeling confident that we know what we’re doing. And the best way to show that we’re credible is to talk about our expertise in a way that’s easy for other people to understand. And we fail to do that. Because what we’re trying

12:01 – 12:43
Lesley Worthington: to do is we’re trying to lower the walls between us so that they know us, like us, hopefully, and trust us. If we use a lot of jargon for instance or big heavy words that they don’t know, they will be confused. They won’t think we’re smart and credible. If they’re confused, they’ll think we’re confusing and possibly maybe don’t even know what we’re doing. So this is why being clear is so important, right? But really for good relationships, it really comes down to empathy. We have to understand the other person’s world. What matters to them? What worries

12:43 – 13:12
Lesley Worthington: them? What motivates them? We need to make sure that they feel known and heard by us so that trust builds. So it goes both ways. We’re trying to allow ourselves to be known by them, by being authentic and open and communicating clearly. And we’re studying the other person to figure out what makes them tick. Right? Because that builds that trust.

13:12 – 14:01
Yan Kugel: Right, right. Yeah. So All the quality not always has the direct management, as you said, but they have some kind of a leadership role. Even if it’s not direct, they lead the quality culture and they should act as leaders because otherwise nobody will follow the quality cultures what they preach, right? And it’s very interesting what you said that don’t talk jargon, don’t, you know, don’t let others feel stupid in the room. And, you know, the, it’s, it said that the best leaders, always make you feel as you are the smarter 1. Right. Because then it opens

14:01 – 14:25
Yan Kugel: trust. So they, good leaders listen to you and make you feel smart and motivated to do your work and not just, you know, saying, oh, you’re, you know, this is the 10th time you’re doing the same error, you’re so stupid. Again, we need to write a deviation. And this just creates a bit feeling toxic work environment. So how do you turn this around?

14:27 – 15:04
Lesley Worthington: I think this again has to do with the clarity and the trust, but to turn that around, I think the best way is you have to empower people so that they feel that you trust them to think on their own and to do what you need them to do. So I think the best way to empower people is to use questions. So rather than telling people what to do, you use questions so that you can, they end up having this sense of control. So instead of like you need to do, I don’t even have an example

15:04 – 15:41
Lesley Worthington: to think of, but you’re trying to pull people out, getting them feeling confident that they have a bit of a stake here. They have some ownership over this. When people feel that they’re a little bit in control, they’re much more willing to do the thing you’re asking them to do. So if you use questions really well, you can get a little bit more cooperation. But I think that part of, I want to go back a little bit more and talk about clarity, because when you asked before about getting more clarity and getting more trust, I didn’t

15:41 – 16:17
Lesley Worthington: have a chance to speak about clarity. Sometimes people think clarity is about like the speaking, like being clear and concise and choosing simple words and using plain language and all the stuff that I go on and on about. And those things are important and they lead to clarity, but clarity really is about our thinking. And if we are clear with our thinking, then every bit of communication will be pretty good. So we need to get clear thinking so that then we can communicate more clearly with the people we’re talking to, and then they won’t feel that.

16:17 – 16:56
Lesley Worthington: They won’t feel dumb because we will know exactly how to communicate with them so that they don’t feel dumb. We have to be clear when we’re thinking of how we communicate with other people. We have to be thinking, are we clear why we’re communicating with them? What do I want from this person? If you’re just telling them they’re wrong, wrong, wrong, is your goal to tell them they’re wrong? Because that’s effectively what the result is when you do that Are we clear about who we’re talking to what they know what they don’t know what they need

16:56 – 17:33
Lesley Worthington: to know What we need from them and and what we what we have to offer in exchange, like what matters to them? Do they want recognition? Do they want appreciation? Like, what can we do? So you’ve also, the best way to help people feel like they’re part of quality and get them thinking that that this is relevant to them and that we’re not and like cutting down that resistance like we’re not just there demanding that they do certain things is to make sure your you’ve got clarity on your answer to so what So you tell something

17:33 – 18:04
Lesley Worthington: to do something, tell somebody to do something, or you tell somebody that something’s really important and they need to think about this. Imagine if they said, so what? Why does this matter to me? You have to have really good clarity on that in order to be able to communicate well with that person. They need to know the relevance. They need to know why they should care. They need to know why they should jump to attention when you ask them to do something. So that’s what I mean when I’m talking about clarity. Right.

18:04 – 18:51
Yan Kugel: So having the intent, you know, before you start talking about, so basically what you’re saying, you really need to be mindful when starting a conversation, not just barging into the office and just starting, oh, what’s going on here? Where is the issue or barging or starting a meeting about changing protocols, SOPs and already anticipate the conversation and approach every conversation as if it will be difficult in advance. Because most of the business conversations can be categorized as difficult because with every big decision, there will be always pushback. And what you’re basically saying is, don’t just go

18:51 – 19:04
Yan Kugel: into a meeting and prepare the technical part, prepare also the communication. Who will be sitting in the table? What is important for them, right? Anticipate their pushback and…

19:04 – 19:35
Lesley Worthington: Exactly. It’s all about the planning. It’s all about the planning. First of all, what do I need to achieve in this meeting? What do I want to leave that meeting with, right? And then how am I gonna get that? What am I gonna use to sell to sell my idea to this person? And the thing you’re gonna use is something that’s important to that other person so you got to be thinking about that and you got to be thinking about all kinds of things about that person. How do they communicate? Like are they right-brained or left-brained?

19:36 – 20:09
Lesley Worthington: Should this be a phone call instead of a Zoom meeting or instead of in person? Like all of these things you have to be thinking. So this is why it’s so important to know people. How are you going to know if someone’s motivated by like facts and figures or if someone’s motivated by the big vision? Because you’ve got to know that if you’re going to pull off this conversation. So, you know, planning involves all of that. And like you just mentioned something about like being prepared for pushback. So imagine the possible objections and be ready for

20:09 – 20:48
Lesley Worthington: them. Right? And the critical thing is to speak in their language because if you don’t and you end up being really technical and it’s sort of very quality ease, then you end up alienating them. They don’t know what you’re talking about. They’ll just nod or tune out or whatever. So it’s kind of complex, right? But if you plan ahead and you plan for the objections, and the other thing too is to not be overly stubborn about what you want. Be more realistic going, okay we’re going for a win-win here. Maybe the ideal thing that I would

20:48 – 21:20
Lesley Worthington: love, maybe I can settle for less than that. So that when you go in, you have a little leeway so that it seems like you’re giving a little bit too. You’re not saying my way or the highway. You’re going in with a little bit of flexibility that you’ve planned ahead of time. You know your bottom line. You know what you want to happen, but you’ve got wiggle room so that the other person feels like they’re not being told, but there’s a little bit of, you know, a conversation happening.

21:21 – 22:00
Yan Kugel: Right. So at the end of every business career, it’s about sales and negotiations, like many people. So I remember myself when I’ve been working at technical support and they told us, you know what, for the ADSL company, I was working during my student times and they wanted us also to sell some accelerates, you know, antivirus, this and this. And I was, why do I need this? I’m not a salesperson. Why should I learn? And the more you continue with your career and your life, you understand that you need to know to sell either way. If you’re

22:00 – 22:38
Yan Kugel: a salesperson, you’re always a salesperson. Either you sell yourself when you go to a job interview or you sell your ideas to your boss. And if you cannot sell, you cannot progress in your career. We will be stuck where you are and you will be wondering why people always get the promotion before I do. And it’s all about, you know, selling the ideas. It’s not only by selling why you should get a raise, but it’s by, you know, selling your ideas and helping the company improve and by, you know, starting with those sales within your position

22:38 – 22:43
Yan Kugel: will also get you the position that you want, the raise, etc.

22:44 – 23:23
Lesley Worthington: That’s exactly it. And then when you think about sales outside of quality, and you think about sales in real life, you buy things that solve problems, right? That’s, we buy things that solve problems for us. And that’s what the salesperson is telling you about. Like, buy this, buy this, whatever, buy this knife, it will cut your tomato better than every other knife on earth, whatever it is, it’s to solve a problem. So whatever you’re selling in quality, your idea, you have to position it as a solution to something that is a problem for the other person

23:23 – 23:59
Lesley Worthington: for them to go, oh, okay, all right, this is a good idea, actually, because so That’s why you must know the other person. You must know what do they worry about? What does the CEO lie awake at night thinking about and worrying about? You’ve got to know that, right? What does the guy on the line worry about? Probably he wants to just get home as quickly as possible. So he worries about efficiency. It’s like, okay, sell your ideas in terms of efficiency for the CEO, sell your ideas in terms of money or reputation or whatever it

23:59 – 24:05
Lesley Worthington: is that your CEO or your upper management is really motivated by.

24:05 – 24:47
Yan Kugel: Right. Yeah, so that’s so true. So there are different types of people. Some are more technical, some are more emotional. And this is where, but Most of us are subject to emotional influence, right? So we have a really great example years ago, for example, how Lenovo used to sell their laptops, they were putting an ad in the paper saying, oh, this computer has so much RAM and the hard drive, so much megabyte and the processor is so quick and then you need to understand and read all those numbers and really understand. But then Apple came and

24:47 – 24:56
Yan Kugel: they were not selling the parameters of the computer. They were selling this computer can fit in your purse.

24:56 – 24:57
Lesley Worthington: Exactly.

24:57 – 25:32
Yan Kugel: And this is so quick. You can write your email simultaneously while the other app is open. So they will explain you the features in a helpful way, and not just numbers that you need to really understand computers. So you need really to understand what the people really understand. Like the GR1, for some people who understand computers, they would say, Oh, why do I care that it fits in my purse? I prefer something that runs this really cool game that needs this, that my, the video cards should be this, this parameters, right? So he wouldn’t buy the

25:32 – 25:37
Yan Kugel: part that goes in the pocket, right? So it depends on who you’re pitching.

25:37 – 26:13
Lesley Worthington: Yeah, knowing the audience, knowing the purpose. That’s my entire business, to remind people to know the audience and know the business and know the purpose. Because if you know those 2 things, you’ll hit the mark every single time. You will use the right words, you will use the right tone, you will use the right motivation, you will give the person what they need. And the interesting thing with influence too is that the things you have that you can offer the other person in exchange for what you want, kind of add up over time. So that like

26:14 – 26:58
Lesley Worthington: the law of reciprocity is something that humans, you know, live by. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. So this is sort of true for influence where you can stockpile a bunch of like IOUs in a way. So if you realize that upper management is really frustrated and they are feeling like no 1 hears them, no 1 understands that they’re frustrated, you literally could let them know that you know they’re frustrated. That’s what they want. So it’s not like you have to offer something like a resource or anything major. It could be somebody wants to be

26:58 – 27:26
Lesley Worthington: listened to. OK, now they owe you. You’ve just got a little bit of an IOU happening now with that. Or if there’s some way you can release some sort of a burden that they have that they just like, I don’t have time to worry about. And it’s like, ooh, I can look after that for you. So you’re accumulating these sort of IOUs with people all over the place so that when it does come time for you to say, hey, you know, I need you to do this, there’s a little bit less resistance because they see you

27:26 – 27:31
Lesley Worthington: as somebody who’s giving them what they need from time to time.

27:32 – 27:37
Yan Kugel: Right. So basically building relationships and not just knocking on the door when you need something.

27:37 – 28:12
Lesley Worthington: That’s it. Right. It’s a long, you know, and you have to remember your relationship extends way beyond that 1 conversation. So it builds up before and it extends beyond. So a lot of people, you know, think that, oh, I just need to like get ready for this 1 conversation. It’s like, no, it’s not that straightforward. It’s like you’re building a relationship so that that conversation is smooth. You don’t just suddenly magically have a good relationship. It’s not like, I use the example, like you don’t get married on the first date, right? It’s like you got to

28:12 – 28:17
Lesley Worthington: spend some time building the relationship because that’s how we build trust over time.

28:19 – 28:35
Yan Kugel: Okay. And do you have any exercises that you can recommend people on doing before going into a meeting, let’s say some important meeting in Oregon, you know, honestly, of importance?

28:35 – 29:13
Lesley Worthington: Yeah, I am I am very much a pen and paper person, I would literally make notes, what do I want to achieve? Right? Because we have to be very, very intentional, especially if we’re not used to being this intentional about things. What do I want to achieve? And what do I know about this person? And what are the possible objections? And how am I going to deal with those? Even if you just start with something like that as you’re getting ready for an important high stakes meeting, that’s good. The other thing is to pay attention to

29:13 – 29:56
Lesley Worthington: what happens. So If things don’t go the way you expected, make notes afterwards. Like, what happened? Why didn’t it go as expected? Did I misread this person? Did I not understand that this person was motivated by something other than what I thought? I always say it’s about intention and attention. Just as you go through your work days, you’re always paying attention. You’re looking around trying to study people and trying to figure them out so that when that important meeting comes, you kind of know them a little bit. Maybe not directly, but maybe you’ve observed something that

29:56 – 30:06
Lesley Worthington: helps you understand that person. So you’re just constantly gathering data on everybody and then being pretty strategic when you have those important conversations.

30:07 – 30:44
Yan Kugel: Right. So I know that some of the biggest businessmen in the world, the most successful ones have a notebook where they note about, they have notes about every person they have ever met. Right? And if they have a meeting, even if in a year, they know about this person, they open the notebook and they say, oh, this person has a child was born that time. He has a dog, he loves dogs, or he loves cats. And then when you meet them, you can mention this and show that you care and you listen. And this is a

30:44 – 30:57
Yan Kugel: huge change in a way that the person would consider you in a different perspective because he will feel important, right?

30:58 – 31:34
Lesley Worthington: Yeah, that’s it. People, ultimately people, humans want to feel listened to, heard, and they want to feel important, and they want to feel in control. So give those things to people. Make them feel important, make them feel heard, like really learn how to listen to people, and give them a sense of control. And if you can do those 3 things, then people will love you because that’s all people want. They want to be heard, they want to feel a little sense of control, they want to feel like they belong, right? And they want to feel important.

31:34 – 31:54
Lesley Worthington: That’s what we want. From the age of 2 onwards, that’s, or from the age of birth actually, that’s all we want. So the human as a professional at work is no different from the human child, right? We’re driven by the same things. So it’s, you know, to our advantage to just remember that when we’re dealing with people at work.

31:56 – 32:40
Yan Kugel: Right. So basically, everyone should be a bit of a politician, a bit of a salesperson, besides their technical skills. And that’s such an interesting approach. And I think that if everybody from each department would consider it as such, then each 1 considers the other 1 when they come to the table, everything would be much more professional and people would achieve more because everybody would know what’s important for the other. So it’s basically a person who works at the manufacturer would understand what’s important for the quality person and vice versa. It’s a really change in the culture,

32:40 – 32:57
Yan Kugel: the communication culture in the company. Do you see companies that actually try to encourage this or this concept is completely, you know, innovation in a way to really encourage people to learn this?

32:57 – 33:38
Lesley Worthington: Yeah, I mean, it’s difficult. I don’t have enough exposure to enough companies to really even comment on that. But I think from my personal experience, it’s easier in a smaller company like startups. You know everybody. Right. So just like personally knowing people is the starting point, right? But in big, big companies, I mean, it’s even becoming more difficult because now we’re so many more people are working remotely. It’s really hard to establish those personal relationships that are so important to thinking of the other person. Right now, the people are just these faces on the screen. They’re

33:38 – 34:26
Lesley Worthington: not even people anymore. Some of the people we don’t even ever actually work with. So I don’t know. I feel like as younger generations come in, they’re maybe starting to be more mindful of this. I can’t really comment on it though, because I’m not really sure in the big scheme of things if companies are becoming more human, really this is what it is, becoming more human. I mean, I wish people would. I hope that this is the way of the future, but I don’t really know because I think it really depends on the leadership, right? Like

34:26 – 34:44
Lesley Worthington: the culture of any company sort of trickles down from How do the leaders lead? What do they think? What’s their philosophy? And so the more leaders we can get having this sort of like humanistic approach, then the more closer we’ll get to that ideal situation.

34:45 – 35:38
Yan Kugel: Right. So I really wonder whether our communication skills as a species would become better and worse, right? Because the younger generation becomes, right? The younger generations, They’re stuck to their computers and phones and they communicate through chats. There is much less, I believe, real friendships because a lot of you count how many Facebook friends or how many followers you have, right? And you communicate in a written way and, you know, it’s a lot about what people think that you are and how you move rather than real communication. So I wonder whether the younger generations, when they

35:38 – 36:00
Yan Kugel: come to the work environment, whether their communication skills would be better or they would stagger. Because they have less experience to really face problems in the real world because we have this culture of getting offended about everything.

36:00 – 36:42
Lesley Worthington: Oh, I know. This is a whole other podcast. It’s so true. And like there’s even I mean, this is great opportunity for me probably right for communication coach, but I remember hearing of a coach who is a telephone coach. And I’m like, what does that mean? It’s like she teaches young people how to answer the phone because they don’t have that skill. They get so anxious about it. They just literally do not know how to talk on the phone. And I’m like, Whoa, so your point is, like, this is relevant and a little bit scary. Right?

36:43 – 37:19
Lesley Worthington: Yeah. I don’t know. That’s a whole other podcast. But I think that, I think that, you know, we pretend that like, oh, social media makes like the whole world at our fingertips, our world is so big now. It’s like, no, no, no, no, no. It’s actually narrowing it smaller and smaller and smaller. So we’re only surrounded by people like us, who think like us, who, you know, and so we don’t, we’re starting, I think we’re starting to lose empathy, because We are so surrounded only by what we know and how we think, that we think this

37:19 – 37:43
Lesley Worthington: is perfectly normal, and we’re losing the ability to go, oh, well maybe they see things differently. So I’m just glad that my kids were like up and away before these phones became mainstream and everything. Because I cannot imagine raising a kid right now, you know, with social media the way it is. Like, I can’t imagine having a teenager.

37:44 – 38:22
Yan Kugel: Right, right. So, yeah, so this is something that I’m thinking about right now, right? So my girl is 6 years old. She already watches cartoons on her phone. She already knows what commercials are, how to know you need to, you know, you need to, they already try to tell them, okay, like and subscribe, even in the C, right? So in a year, so she’s a 5 and a half, you know, she goes to school. So then we have apps, right? Like TikTok that really show that they can really brainwash you, right? They can shoot content according

38:22 – 38:34
Yan Kugel: to what they just shoot content towards you. And if you like them, they shoot more content, right? And it can be very damaging to the young mind. Right.

38:34 – 38:39
Lesley Worthington: So a six-year-old doesn’t have the reasoning capabilities to deal with that. Right.

38:39 – 39:23
Yan Kugel: Yeah. So that’s for sure. So I think that every parent should really blow those apes. I think even for us, when we got Facebook, we were in college and this, and you already see the impact that it has on the world and how people communicate with each other, and It changes everything. And I do feel that with time people lose the interpersonal communication because until they’re 20, before that you’re in class, you’re always communicating with your teacher, with your peers. But I believe right now, if you go to schools, they probably sit most of the time

39:23 – 39:56
Yan Kugel: on their own phones, right? And they cut their real inter-human communication by maybe 50%, if not more, right? So they have less practice in communication. And I think this is 1 of the reasons why people, you know, this, this culture becomes the, the, of the, I’m offended culture where people, you know, they have less experience to really, you know, discuss issues.

39:57 – 40:40
Lesley Worthington: Yeah, explain how they feel without, you know, feeling like everything feels like an attack. And I think the the other issue with screens is that it it puts this almost like this feeling of anonymous or something like yeah, so you you as the sender are less careful, because you don’t have to deal with somebody’s, you know, face and their expression and their body language, you don’t have to worry about really whether what you said just felt like an attack to someone. You’re not even aware of that. You’re just whatever blah blah blah. You’re stupid. You know,

40:40 – 40:49
Lesley Worthington: and it gives people this freedom to talk in a way that they would never ever do in real life. Right, right.

40:50 – 41:24
Yan Kugel: Yeah, so hopefully it doesn’t translate because at some point people can get used to it. Like for us, it was not the same because we already knew, okay, you cannot say things to a person or it is okay for another person to have a different opinion. That’s fine. Right. You, you accept it. You say, okay, we have a different opinion. That’s fine. Right. And if people always, you know, they, they feel so safe to say whatever they want or on the other way they feel that they’re not allowed to say something because it’s not trendy, then

41:26 – 41:59
Yan Kugel: we can face as a species, you know, can face really be consequences because what you said about we don’t see faces, you can, I think a very nice example for it is road rage, right? Like if you’re driving in a car, right? And somebody cuts you and you’re starting to get like super angry on this person because you don’t see his face or you see a car, you don’t see a person that might didn’t see you, maybe he’s hurt because some, you know, maybe somebody see his hurt, you

41:59 – 42:01
Lesley Worthington: don’t see the person, you

42:01 – 42:08
Yan Kugel: see some metal box and you’re very angry and you want to, you know, it’s more than that. So I think it’s a nice.

42:09 – 42:47
Lesley Worthington: Yeah, we’re just stuck in our little, in our little world. And the only thing we know is our perception. And we’re just not open to the other. So I think as a, you know, a quality person or somebody working with others, even if it’s virtual, like online or whatever, it’s just like having the skills then to, to diplomatically, you know, let the other person know how this made you feel. Because a lot of times people just need to be reminded because if you come from the assumption that for the most part humans are nice, They’re not

42:47 – 43:24
Lesley Worthington: trying to hurt each other. If you start off with that idea, then you know, then you need the skills to just, you know, keep reminding people, hey, you know, the way you said that made me feel like I’m a bit nervous to share my ideas now moving forward, you know? Really? That’s how that made you feel, you know? So just trying to have that open dialogue so people start to see inside other people’s heads, you know? And if that might be the place we’re at now, as this new generation comes into the workplace, it might be

43:24 – 43:45
Lesley Worthington: like the older generation, our generation, just reminding people about other people’s feelings. And if that’s the level of the conversation, when it starts with a new person, then that’s the level it is until that person comes up to speed. It is scary though, yeah. It is scary to think of where we’re going.

43:46 – 44:31
Yan Kugel: Yeah, 100%. And let’s say there are people in quality, especially in pharma. So pharma is quite a hierarchical place, right? Especially the big pharma, there is a lot of levels of leadership and different departments, right? So it can be overwhelming working in such huge companies where there is a lot of regulatory oversight, people are afraid to do mistakes, to do changes. So if you’re working in such environment and you feel that your communication skills are a bit lacking and you feel you’re not being heard to and that you’re afraid to speak up. So what would be

44:31 – 44:43
Yan Kugel: the stages that you would recommend or some exercises, a road map that you can draw for such a person to take the communication skills to the next level?

44:45 – 45:30
Lesley Worthington: So I would probably start with getting them to like literally take notes, take notes of what’s happening because there will be patterns. Once we start paying more attention to what’s happening during our work life, we start to notice patterns. That will tell you what you need to work on. You might notice a pattern that when I’m talking about a certain topic, I get a bit of imposter syndrome, and then when someone questions me, I get really defensive. And if that keeps happening, it’s like, okay, now what am I gonna do about that? If that’s the problem,

45:30 – 46:03
Lesley Worthington: what am I gonna do about that? Or, when I’m in, when I talk to this person on the phone, my conversations go way better than when I talk to this person in person, or the opposite possibly. But just making a note of that is like, what am I going to do about that? So the first stage is, is paying attention and recognizing what you’re good at. Like, I don’t think we should, you know, I don’t think we should just be focusing on like, oh my God, I’m bad at this. What are we good at? Build on

46:03 – 46:39
Lesley Worthington: those strengths and what makes me feel like really insecure about myself? What is a problem for me? And then just focus on those things. And in terms of like, how do you focus on that? Like get a coach, read as much as you can, observe. Like it’s just whatever is your way of learning. There’s so much information out there for free, you know, Google stuff, you know, YouTube videos all over the place. You can learn a lot by that. You can also learn a lot just by observing yourself and trying different things like, okay, I’m going

46:39 – 47:11
Lesley Worthington: to try this 1 thing. And then when you’re trying to improve yourself, work on 1 thing, 1 tiny little thing, and then see how it goes. Sometimes we think, I’ve got to be a better communicator. It’s like, that’s such a massive thing. People don’t even know where to start. So just start on the thing that’s causing you the biggest problems. And for a lot of the time, it’s like a mindset thing. So work on your mindset. Right. A lot of the time it’s a knowledge thing. I don’t know enough about this topic. That’s why I feel

47:11 – 47:46
Lesley Worthington: like I do. OK, let me learn more about that topic. A lot of the time it’s a relationship thing. OK, I need a better relationship with this person over here. What am I gonna do about that? How am I gonna get to know that person? And then it’s, figure out what the problem is, figure out a plan. And the plan is like a real plan where you can measure it, you can track it, you can see if you’re improving. So if you decide I really need to improve my relationship with this 1 person over here, then

47:46 – 48:23
Lesley Worthington: what’s my plan? Literally, well, I’m gonna, I’m gonna see if I can have coffee with them. Or I’m gonna ask a mutual person we have if they can introduce us and we can all 3 of us sit down together, whatever it is, right? Just have a very clear plan and then just take action. We are really, really good at learning stuff, watching videos, reading books and not doing anything. But the only way to get better at something is to do it, to take action. And that’s the big piece that most people don’t do. They’re like, yes,

48:23 – 49:00
Lesley Worthington: yes, I know how to be more influential. Good, good, good. I know how to build empathy. Oh, I read this book on emotional intelligence. That’s great. But until you start putting things into practice, nothing’s gonna change. So I think Finding figuring out a way to hold yourself accountable to this plan that you’ve created is Really important. So accountability buddy could be a coach could be it could be anything could be your diary could be anything. So taking action and you’re going to feel awkward because growth is awkward. Growth feels a little bit painful. So when you’re

49:00 – 49:07
Lesley Worthington: trying something new, it’s gonna be like, oh my God, this feels so awkward. But that’s how we get better at things.

49:09 – 49:52
Yan Kugel: Yeah, that’s such great tips indeed. So great conversation, Leslie. And Thank you so much for having this chat with me and to the audience. I highly recommend you to get in touch with Leslie. You will find her LinkedIn details in the post for this podcast and also the description and follow her for her very insightful posts about communications. And if you need any assistance help with training in writing clear SOPs or communication within the organization, we had such amazing trainings together with amazing reviews about those sessions with Leslie. So don’t hesitate to connect with her, follow

49:52 – 50:00
Yan Kugel: her. And if you need assistance, just reach out to her. I’m sure she will be really happy to chat with you. Right, Leslie?

50:00 – 50:24
Lesley Worthington: Yep. Yep. This was a great conversation. It went off on a bit of a tangent, but that was a great tangent, that discussion about the future. But yeah, I’m happy to reach out, you know, Connect with me on LinkedIn, send me a message, whatever. I’m here for anyone who needs help with their communication skills. And it’s been a pleasure to chat with you today.

50:25 – 50:28
Yan Kugel: Great, thank you, Leslie, and looking forward to our next chat.

50:29 – 50:30
Lesley Worthington: Thanks, Yan.

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