Never deal with a Difficult Conversation alone. And I don’t mean going into the Difficult Conversation with a couple of lieutenants walking two steps behind – that would frighten the poor individual into the only sane responses at that point – fight or fold, say nothing and get your own back later!
What I mean is that if you have a difficult situation developing with a member of staff use all of the resources around you to consider what approach to take. And why is powerful:
- Difficult situations are emotive – and as a human being you will also be feeling emotive (angry, frustrated, apprehensive, confused, exasperated, etc, etc) – speaking to an outside person gives the calmness and objectivity that you and the situation need.
- Your staff member may be a very good ‘game player’ and, if good, will have you doubting everything you say!! An outside person will be able to confirm to you ‘No, you are right!’
- If you speak with someone who has been there, done that they will be able to give you all of their hard earned expertise with great ideas and approaches.
- Employment law requires us, as managers, to ‘respond reasonably at all times’ and discussing it with a couple of managers will give you the confidence that your decided approach has been reviewed and is reasonable.
- You can practice key feedback phrases and gain feedback about how they land.
So grab an experienced manager, HR, your boss and don’t try to do this alone! The more preparation for a Difficult Conversation the more swimmingly easy the actual conversation is. One of my clients actually came back disappointed after being fully prepared for a Difficult Conversation ‘We were ready for him, Sue, every angle considered and planned but he simply agreed with everything we said!’ That is the outcome you want every time!