Are You Comfortable Having Uncomfortable Conversations At Work?
“The point is this: difficult conversations are almost never about getting the facts right. They are about conflicting perceptions, interpretations, and values.”
As a leader, there are some things you just can’t avoid or hide from, and one of them is having an uncomfortable conversation in the workplace. Uncomfortable conversations aren’t enjoyable no matter what situation you are in, but in the workplace there is an expectation of how you conduct yourself and what the outcome is.
Uncomfortable conversations are usually:
- inconvenient timing
They are going to happen and they can’t be avoided. They are typically about disputes or differences of opinion which, if not handled properly can lead to low morale among the employees, poor performance and a toxic environment. Other difficult conversations could be about underperformance, inappropriate workplace behavior, breaking a rule or being consistently late.
Why do leaders avoid the tough conversations?
- Fear of being disliked
- Fear of confrontation
- Fear that things will be made worse
- Fear of losing and employee
- Hope that it will work itself out and won’t have to be dealt with
Don’t hide from it, face it head on…
Uncomfortable conversations are difficult, they are people problems. Like it or not, part of the reason you are in the position you are in is to deal with them and be the leader you are meant to be. Many organizations offer courses and training that are helpful.
These strategies can be helpful to you as you work to turn an uncomfortable conversation into a productive one:
The conversation (not the uncomfortable part) should actually begin when a new employee is onboarded into your organization…
- Establish expected standards, behaviors, and values.
- Encourage open communication.
- Remain calm, positive and keep your composure, while being clear about the issue.
- Don’t “point the finger”, this only makes the person on the other side of the conversation feel defensive, and an immediate roadblock is thrown up. In other words, avoid statements that begin with “you” (“you did” or “you said” or “you should have”), avoid laying blame on the other person.
- Enter the conversation with a purpose…what do you want to accomplish, what is the solution?
- A great way to avoid uncomfortable conversations is to have frequent and open opportunities to speak with team members, encourage them, understand them and offer praise.
- When it comes to conflict, whether you agree or not, try to understand everyone’s point of view. Try to understand intention and perspective.
- Show respect to each person involved.
- Listen, listen, listen. Be interested and slow to jump to judgement.
- Build trust in your employees by keeping the conversation confidential.
No one enjoys uncomfortable conversations, but when handled correctly, they can have a positive impact and begin to build good relationships.
If your goal is to become a better, more effective leader – Please contact me at 425-879-1677 or email me from my Contact Form.