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Mr. Maneno Mabaya – where did he go wrong?

4th May 2015

Dear Colleagues,


For Management,
Mr. Maneno Mabaya

And that is the last email that employees of Maneno Mabaya Enterprises received in their inboxes just before they broke for their Labour Day long weekend last Thursday.

Mr. Manaeno Mabaya is a hard working Kenyan like many of us. Every day he diligently goes to his steel works enterprise at the heart of industrial area in Nairobi as he pursues his dreams towards financial independence. Yet year in, year out it seems that he is not getting the breakthrough that he deserves. He ensures that he hires the best graduates, within reasonable limit of what he can afford to pay and yet his employee turnover keeps on getting worse with time. He ensures that they have the best physical working environment and in fact has gone a step ahead to provide lunch at his staff canteen, yet his employee woes remain but that is only the tip of the iceberg of his sorrows.

Two weeks ago for the umpteenth time his wife of five years finally made true of her word threatening to leave when Mr. Maneno Mabaya came back from one of his business trips in Dubai only to find his home empty. Mrs. Maneno Mabaya had packed her and their two children’s bags and left with nothing as little as a good bye note.

His siblings and friends (indeed the few that are left) have time and time again requested him to manage the stress in his life as it is beginning to rub into their own lives too. The baggage that he carries day in and day out is beginning to wear them down too.
Tokeo la picha la cartoon of a black confused man

Where did Mr. Maneno Mabaya go wrong?
Poor communication skills.

Like Mr. Maneno Mabaya are we really effective listeners? When holding a conversation with our friends do our minds linger to our weekend plans as we await with bated breathe the opportunity to put our words across or worse still cut them off? Or are we attentive listeners who are truly in the moment giving that undivided attention to those we interact with on a daily basis? Do we read in between the lines?Do our biases and stereotypes about people hinder us from getting the message that they are trying to pass across to us and make us miss great opportunities that could change our lives? Do we have that open and disarming demeanour when interacting with our colleagues that is normally enhanced by a smile that is worth a thousand words or are we tensed up and anticipating that moment to dismiss everything that is being said? Do we give timely feedback?

If only Mr. Maneno Mabaya knew that the poor assessment of non verbal cues from his wife were slowly killing the relationship, he would have handled things better. Many a time, she sat sullenly across the dining room table as he dramatically shared with her his day’s experiences. Many a time she averted her gaze from him making little or no eye contact as he raised his voice at her for not preparing the meal up to his expectation. Mrs. Maneno Mabaya could not even remember the last time her husband gave her an affectionate hug. Infact things had gotten so bad that her senses had become numb to his daily tirade of words that had to be delivered in his characteristic roaring tone. Always anxious and tensed up with his fidgety eyes, his body language more often than not had such negative connotations. Mrs. Maneno Mabaya could not take it anymore.

How many of us like Mr. Maneno Mabaya carry our life stressors in other facets of our lives hence hindering communication. Stress for most humans makes us negative, tensed up, give negative non verbal cues, misread other people and this can make one miss life changing events including failing in that introduction to a fiancees family for example.

Remember many a time it is not what we say but rather how we say it that counts.

In this day and age of digital communication are we cognizant of what and how we post on social media. Once we press that send button on the mail the repurcussions many a time are irreversible. Do we ‘shout’ in our email correspondences like Mr. Maneno Mabaya did in the mail that has been showcased?

Are we striving for clear and effective communication in our daily encounters that will boost our quality of life? Are we guilty of verbal or is it diguital diarrhea, where without abandon we just post first thing on our social media profiles anything that comes to mind without bearing in mind its consequence to our audience? Do we pause, stop to collect our thoughts before responding to that stress building up type of email. Are we letting our extreme emotions whether positive or negative get into our communication?

Have we gone a notch higher to enhance our communication skills by attending communication workshops, ‘Toastmasters’ for example? Are we enriching our vocabulary and communication style by reading widely? Do we learn from acclaimed communicators in our workplace on their presentation skills – their diction, pronunciation, use of non verbal cues such as professional dressing to pass a message across?

It is now Monday morning, workers have assembled at Maneno Mabaya Enterprises at the heart of Industrial Area in Nairobi, Kenya. They have decided to take matters into their own hands and will not await the evening meeting. Mr. Maneno Mabaya is a bit taken aback by the unusual congregation of his workers at his office as one of them begins, ‘Good morning Sir.’

‘We have come to give you notice to leave of one month’.

With the newly acquired knowledge on good communication skills we can only hope for the best for Mr. Maneno Mabaya today as he averts this new crisis.

Happy new week of effective communication!