What's working around communication? What's not?

What's working for you around influence? What's not?

Please tell me the meaning of these sentences. I have problem with the word ((around)) and so I can't understand the meaning of these sentences.

These questions were found in a leadership coaching blog:

Coaching Questions to Explore with Clients:

  1. What's working around communication? What's not?
  2. Thinking about your team, what are their preferences around communication? What are your preferences around communication?
  3. What are the strengths you bring to communication?
  4. What are your communication blindspots?
  5. What difficult conversations need to happen?

Coaching Questions to Explore with Clients:

  1. What does influence mean for you?
  2. What does influence look like?
  3. Where is influence most important to you in your role/team/department?
  4. What's working for you around influence? What's not?

4 Answers 4


This reads like the jargon common in self-help books, business schools, political workers, where you will see around in the sense of anything to do with.

Within their niche audiences, these kinds of sentences can have specific and useful meanings. Outside those audiences they can be very difficult, especially for learners.

  • I need help around self-esteem (Self-help: I want to improve how I think about myself)
  • We need to focus the problems around silo thinking (Business: Relationships between company departments is bad)
  • We need policy work around health services (Politics: What should our health service policy be?)

It isn't very clear, but around in this case is probably means in the field of, in the subject of or in the area of.

The first sentence is particularly confusing as work around is also a verb expression that means to resolve a problem by avoiding it rather than directly solving it. But I think in this case it doesn't mean that.

So it sounds like this is some kind of work survey in which you are being asked what is working (what is going well, what is effective) in the area of those subjects.


I would read it as:

What success have you had with communication?


What's working in the communication space?

"Around" is meant to get just outside the noun it's modifying. So you're not talking directly about communication but rather everything directly related to it, like the tools and techniques you use to communicate.

For a clearer example think of a simpler noun.

What's happening around the town?

We're not interested in the literal town, but we are interested in everything directly related to the town.


The sentences don't quite work, or at least are awkward.

"Around" has very many meanings, and furthermore, I think you might be getting confused by the word "workaround" (or "work-around"), which has special meaning, different from "work around".

The words "communication" and "influence" are abstract nouns, and when they follow the word "around" it is in special constructions ("revolves around", or "built around", for example) which express that they are of central importance to something else.

  • 1
    This usage isn't standard, but it's not a mistake — there's a speech community where "around X" means "related to X" or "in the area of X".
    – Anonymous
    May 10, 2019 at 21:48

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