3 Things Turkeys Teach Us About Business Communication

In this Thanksgiving special, we'll take a look at how these feathered beauties provide examples of good and bad communication strategies. 

There’s a lot we can learn from nature. Gila monster venom combats diabetes. Mantis shrimp stun their prey by attacking so fast that they create an implosion. Naked mole rats very rarely get cancer.

One animal that’s much less respected, though, is the turkey.


1: Understanding the intentions of others (0:55)

This video is an excellent example of turkeys helping their teammate achieve a common goal. When the man quickly becomes unable to speak or breathe, the turkeys understand his intentions and turn them into action.

You’ll notice a slight change in tone when their manager can’t communicate clearly with the turkeys. That simple inflection prompts the group to react. In a business setting, this would be considered an example of a collaborative relationship between managers and their team. By understanding the man’s intent, the team was able to determine a strategy collectively and complete the project even with a lack of clear information.


2: Resolving Workplace Conflict (1:44)

Proper communication enhances productivity. When there are barriers to discussing issues, resentment and misunderstandings can negatively affect the efficiency of your business.

In this example, the Postal worker is being blocked from completing her daily tasks. The turkey is giving her the runaround, angrily expressing his opinion while interrupting the work of a project manager (this isn’t even his department). There are two issues that must be addressed before the conflict can be resolved effectively.

1: Communication Barriers – They’re obviously not speaking the same language here. A good solution could be for the pair to express themselves with a mediator or possibly emoticons. But, judge the situation accordingly. Here, Human Resources show up in a red truck (1:20) and cause the poultry to leave the situation. The conflict may have been resolved temporarily, but animosity will remain between these two.

2: Pride – Sometimes pride can get in the way - decisions that were made for business success are misinterpreted as a personal attack. Getting territorial about projects often leads to delays and, in this case, forces the company to compensate for the resulting overtime.


3: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work (1:14)

Constant communication.

That’s the first thing I pulled from this video. These guys weren’t just winging it. They used all their possible resources to get the ball rolling. Beaks, feet, wings… but at the same time, they were coordinated as a group. There weren’t arguments about who oversaw the task. They all communicated their thoughts and positions. That’s not something you see every day, especially in the business world. The clutch detail though – they never stopped talking.

If these guys can maintain communication during a task like this, balancing their competitive nature with a desire to get the ball rolling, there’s no reason a team of human professionals can’t do it better. Instant messaging, CC’ing, and (heaven forbid) phone calls provide us with greater connectivity than ever before in history. Turkeys have been using the same outdated methods since they first saw a soccer ball. Don’t be a turkey.


The main idea here is that sometimes you need to come into a situation with a fresh perspective and a bird's eye view. These turkeys provide many good and bad examples of collaboration on a team. Are you empowering your coworkers and providing support? Have you handled workplace conflicts effectively? We should all strive to be the type of teammate who's willing to kick ideas around, work together, spread our wings, and fly (or glide?) - not certain about that last part.