How the Yanny and Laurel Debate Can Help Improve Workplace Communication

May 17, 2018

Are you Team Yanny or Team Laurel? Taly Fleischer explains how the latest viral debate can help improve communication between colleagues.

As a corporate coach, I have the opportunity to get a glimpse into the cultures and inner workings of many organizations—some good and some less so. Common recurring themes, which inevitably lead to conflict, include poor communication and a lack of understanding of each others perspectives.

So, when the latest online debate started to make its way into my office, a line in the sand was drawn—team Laurel vs. team Yanny.

But how can this latest viral debate help improve communication in the workplace? One word—empathy. In other words, understanding that colleagues might see (or in this case hear) the exact same thing yet come to different conclusions.

At Circle & Square we teach clients about the concept and skill of mentalization. Mentalization is the ability to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and engage the world of others. This skill serves an important function as it allows us to understand the intentionality of people’s behavior—why people say what they say and do what they do. With this understanding, we can often avoid assumptions and blame. Instead of getting frustrated or trying to change someone’s belief to match our own—perhaps we can take a step back to appreciate the value of differing viewpoints.

Which team are you?

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Taly Fleischer is a Director with our Circle & Square practice of Farber. This group has three service offerings, corporate training, consulting, and leadership coaching. Taly leads the coaching offering, which utilizes her own frameworks and leverages the proprietary Circle & Square methodology. Taly can be reached at 416.496.3751 or

Barry Pokroy is the founder and leader of Circle & Square, and a partner of Farber. As a Clinical Psychologist, he has in-depth knowledge and experience in adapting the insights of psychological theory to the demands of the corporate environment. Barry can be reached at 416.496.3079 and