The Top 5: Tips for Managing Tough Conversations
Tips from the trenches to keep your copier career on track
When You Need to Say Something…
Not every on-the-job conversation will be pleasant, especially if you’re in a leadership role. Sometimes keeping your business, team or project on track means keeping your employees or coworkers in check. Here are a few tips for making those tough talks a little easier.
- Affirm their value and recognize successes. Open the conversation by telling them how much they mean to the success of company. Be sure to highlight what they’re doing right before you start in on what’s going wrong. People who feel valued and who understand their role in the business are more likely to accept your correction rather than taking it personally.
- Explain the benefits. Make it clear that your feedback is not an arbitrary exercise of your authority. Explain why this change is necessary for the project, company, team, etc. as well as for their own success. Be sure they understand how they will benefit personally from adjusting their actions.
- Strategize your phrasing. It doesn’t matter how right your arguments may be if your words completely alienate the other person. Simple changes like keeping a positive spin or replacing “you” with “I” or “we” can help keep them from getting defensive. For example, “You keep forgetting Task A” may be true but “It’s very important for all of us that Task A is done, that’s why it is your responsibility” communicates the same thing with less sting. Don’t pull your punches when necessary but this conversation should be about correction, not punishment.
- Listen! Address any excuses, justifications, or objections calmly and thoroughly. Respect their opinions and try to see their side of things. Don’t assume you already know all the answers. It’s always possible that their perspective will shed light on a different cause for the problem.
- Don’t get defensive. If they fire back, stay calm. Likewise, if they get upset, don’t press the matter. Suggest another meeting time to give them – and yourself – time to cool down.