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Howdy Neighbor

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Online Career Tips Staff

The following is a true story about workplace miscommunication. The actual names of the participants are being withheld to protect their identities.

Imagine The Cubicle Wonderland—long rows of side-by-side grey cubicles with small dividers between them and a company of about 50,000 employees worldwide. In this particular story, a high-profile information technology project was being developed over the course of a year.

[American Public University offers degrees for IT professionals]

Each week, “Brad,” the project manager, hosted almost daily status meetings. He was seated a row in front of me on the left. Directly in front of me, and on Brad’s right sat, “Jody.” Jody and Brad didn’t know each other. They just happened to work inches away from one another with a one-foot divider separating them.

Brad held large conference calls with the project team and Jody would dial to join because she was in charge of supporting “communications.” Brad never cared to introduce himself to the person next to him and Jody was too shy to introduce herself believe it or not.

Over the course of six months, I observed two working professionals completely ignore each other despite the fact that they were within arms length.

One day on a conference call, I overheard Brad say, “Communications person? Jody? Oh, where are you located?”

“In the A Building,” Jody meekly replied into her phone.

“I work in the A Building,” Brad said confused. “Where do you sit?”

“Umm… nearby,” she replied.

Brad stood up from his cubicle still wearing his headset and scanning the office area.

“Where,” he asked?

Jody stood up sheepishly next to him, also with her headset on.

At which point I jokingly yelled out, “Brad meet Jody, Jody meet Brad.”

Talk about awkward.

So what’s the moral of this true story? Do you really need to ask.

J. Thompson is the Vice President of the Content team at American Public University. He earned an M.F.A in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and performed his undergraduate studies in English literature, political science and business management between the University of New Mexico and East Carolina University. His career insights draw upon experience as a communications vice president supporting learning management, applicant tracking, and talent and leadership development for Bank of America and other Fortune 500 firms.

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