... Talking to Improve Efficiency

Talking to Improve Efficiency

talking-megaphoneIdentifying Communication Styles to Support Culture and Growth Among Pipeline Contractors

By Mike Thomas

Communication plays a major role in how a pipeline contractor establishes an organizational culture and structure of growth. Assertiveness is the foundation needed to improve efficiency within the oil and natural gas industry, while other communication styles may put up roadblocks among working partners.

Within the oil and natural gas industry, the exploration of communication methods, characteristics, assorted leadership styles and channels can help shape the energy landscape. There are four essential styles of communication that will help transform pipeline contractors into a better functioning organization while building effective relationships. By identifying these four styles, pipeline contractors will be able improve efficiency by eliminating problems associated with poor communication.

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The time is now to learn how to be assertive and communicate in a clear and direct manner, while displaying respect. As John R. Bunn said, “drill deeper” and “stake a new location” is the mindset needed to transform curiosity into a foundation that stimulates growth and increased production among the oil and natural gas industry.

The following overview about communication styles will provide a foundation that pipeline contractors can build upon to transform their organizational atmosphere into an assertive environment while building healthy relationships and promoting the imagination of the entire cadre. There is a saying in the oil patch and along pipeline rights of ways that every day is a holiday and every meal is a picnic. Pipelining is a profession consisting of multifaceted individuals who are properly trained and qualified to install the veins of the oil fields. Their work is the most arduous in the oil and natural gas industry.

Proper Communication

Proper communication styles within a pipeline contracting company can mean the difference between success and failure on the jobsite.

Passive Communication
The passive communication style avoids expressing the right feelings, expressions and opinions about a pipeline project, which leaves the needs and wants of the pipeline contractor undefined. The oil and natural gas industry has no room for low self-esteem among pipeline contractor owners, managers and foremen. Annoyances and grievances usually build up over time, which can lead to outbursts. The ability to take care of such an undeveloped communication pattern will result in the pipeline contractor responding to anger-inducing situations appropriately.

The five passive communication indicators to look for before a pipeline contractor outburst takes place and before guilt and confusion sets in: failure to assert themselves, allowing others to infringe on pipeline contractor policy and procedures, failure to express pipeline contractor feelings, wants or needs, soft speaking voice during meetings or apologizing consistently and lazy posture with erratic eye contact.

The influence of a structure of passive communication is that the pipeline contractor will possess a lack of control, be depressed, be resentful, remain confused and display organizational immaturity because of the lack of attention to tackle the issue at hand. Be mindful of the patterns during direct communication with assorted pipeline contractor individuals who act and speak in the following ways: is unable to stand up and speak up, does not know best practices, is run over by various individuals, presents a weak persona and blames others for their own complacency.

Aggressive Communication
Within the pipeline contractor environment, aggressive communication is a style that tends to identify itself on a daily basis and can be easily spotted. The pipeline contractor who expresses expectations will often violate the rights of other individuals. The verbal and physically abusive behavior will result in 11 easy to spot communicators such as: dominating others, humiliation, criticizing others, displaying impulsive actions, zero tolerance for frustration, speaking very loudly, rudeness, will not listen to feedback, constantly interrupts, says “you should have done this or you should have done that” and maintains constant eye contact.

The influence of a structure of this style will result in isolation from other pipeline contractors, dividing others, creating fear in other pipeline contractors to try to keep the cadre together or esprit de corps and passing the buck while blaming other pipeline contractors. The communication to look for may be caught within a few phrases heard across the oil patch: “I’m right and you’re wrong,” “it’s my way or the highway,” “you are worthless,” “I’m the boss,” “I own you” and “you owe me.” These aggressive communication style indicators are like a pile of brush on the right of way: worthless, useless and meaningless and just in the way. Communication style is one ingredient toward satisfing a want or organizational need. An important benefit for the oil and natural gas industry is to think about communication styles as a two-way process and not a restraint to change internal behaviors.

Passive-Aggressive Communication
This style may be difficult to detect and will require a slightly different approach to determine how to communicate effectively. The pipeline contractor will display passive patterns on the surface, although the fact is the individual is acting out in an indirect way as identified within the aggressive communication identifiers. The various pipeline contractor individuals who develop a systematic pattern of passive-aggressive communication will display resentment while hiding behind an inappropriate smile or smirk. Be careful of this style because the individual will set the project or situation up for failure to prove capable of power while hiding behind one’s resentment.

The passive-aggressive individual will appear to play ball, while at the same time mumble to himself, will not own up to one’s anger, display rampant facial expressions, sarcasm, deny problems and appear to be a team player while using a subtle approach to sabotage the pipeline project or task at hand. The influence of passive-aggressive communication is that each pipeline contractor will divide the situation using a position of powerlessness and display resentment during the decision-making process. Listen and look for behaviors resulting in sabotage, position of powerlessness and resentment in cooperation.

Assertive Communication
The last communicative style is assertive. Assertive communication style is where the individual within the oil and natural gas industry openly and clearly identifies feelings, opinions and steadily promotes personal rights, needs and wants without infringing on the rights of other pipeline contractors. A high self-esteem is a common trait found within these individuals.

The assertive individual will display respectful wants, needs and feelings, and takes ownership of his actions. In addition, assertive communicators will remain respectful during decisions, maintain self-control and eye contact while speaking clearly, displaying a relaxed body posture and will stand up and speak for what is right while upholding company policy and procedures. As you enter different pipeline projects, problematic relationships are the easiest to identify because of “body language,” according to Brian Patterson, pipeline distribution foreman of the Northeast Oklahoma region for Circle B Underground in Bristow, Okla.

The assertive pipeliner will believe and act equal to other individuals, speaks confidently and to the point on best practices in a respectful way. Assertiveness within the oil and natural gas industry will identify a stable foundation and verify faithful relationships to build healthy and effective modes of communication.

In closing, the transition of a pipeline contractor toward a communication style that supports an organizational culture and structure of growth depends on the ability to identify key communicators within the oil and natural gas industry. These communication convictions are an emerging option for improving efficiency within the industry. The defining of passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive and assertive communication styles will support the foundation needed to improve efficiency through communication and ultimately build an unwavering organizational atmosphere within the oil and natural gas industry.

Mike Thomas is a doctoral candidate at The University of Phoenix in organizational leadership. He has more than 16 years of pipelining experience and currently is a pipeline inspector in the northeastern Oklahoma. His expertise encompasses pipeline safety and integrity for assorted pipeline clients. Contact him by email at michaelthomas2072@gmail.com.

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