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What the Healthcare Debacle Can Teach Us All About Communication

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red tape-covered mouth

Whatever side of the political spectrum you’re on, it’s safe to say we all can agree the President’s rollout hasn’t gone… according to plan.

It’s come to light that one of the main reasons for all the technical snafus seems to be a basic lack of communication — the sort many have experienced in offices and organizations nationwide. Software engineers recognized emerging concerns, but didn’t always feel free (or able) to honestly discuss them with the Oval Office.

A recent article on Forbes discusses the similarity between this “communication breakdown” and the situation many of us face at work:

Where have I heard this before? The short answer is—in my discussions with managers and executives from all kinds of organizations that are, to coin a phrase, conversation-challenged. By this I mean that the organizational cultures do not invite people at various levels to share ideas, concerns, and information needed to successfully complete projects. I would say most organizations fall into this trap at one point or another.

And it’s not just a failing of large bureaucracies, although that is undoubtedly a big part of the problem with the Obamacare launch. All you need is a manager or some other leader who, unintentionally or otherwise, is in the unfortunate habit of killing good conversations. These people are “terminators” rather than “continuers” of conversation.

You can read the full article here.

Regardless of where the finger-pointing takes us, the healthcare debacle serves as a cautionary tale of why employees should be encouraged to speak up when they have a good idea or notice something wrong. It’s a lesson that’s applicable to all of us, whether we’re managers, workers or freelancers afraid of raising an issue with our clients. Where communication is “terminated,” success rates also suffer.

Have you ever experienced a “communication breakdown” at work? How do you think these situations can be addressed?

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  • Gahe

    The failure and finished around what is relevant, acceptable alone nothing is too difficult.

  • David Hooper

    It’s worth mentioning here, and the health care debate is a perfect example of this, that confirmation bias can either help or hurt your communication, depending on the feelings of who you’re talking to.


    Sarah Palin (or Obama) could give a speech on both CNN and FOX and each audience would hear something different, depending on what they want to hear.