In life, there are occasions when no matter how much we’d like to avoid it, a difficult discussion is necessary with a teammate, coworker, family member, or friend so we can navigate a tricky situation or deal with challenging behavior.
As a business owner and manager of people for more than 16 years, this is familiar territory. In my last role I served as the president of a company with over 500 team members). Confrontation, coaching, corrective discipline, and sometimes terminations have been part of my regular responsibilities. I think I handled such interactions well at times — but I also bombed on some occasions. More than once, I recall walking away thinking, “Wow, that did not go the way I that I thought it would.”
I tried to learn from each less-than-stellar experience. Leadership development courses, reading, studying, trial and error, and a genuine intention to learn and improve in this area have helped. I’ve found a fbew strategic ways, over the years, to approach these interactions thoughtfully. And I’ve shared successful techniques with my teams and colleagues.
With a little pre-planning and the right intentions, you can turn what could be a difficult conversation into an opportunity to build trust, communicate needs and expectations, and foster an environment for growth and improvement.
For many of us, just the word “confrontation” carries strong negative emotions. We may fear that we will hurt someone’s feelings, create a difficult work environment or compromise a friendship.
Developing the ability to confront issues is essential in the workplace and in other areas of our lives. Addressing issues as they arise lets team members or coworkers have the information they need to meet expectations in relationships, job performance, and workplace culture.
You can foster communication by providing an opportunity for people to correct and grow with the organization, while also documenting your efforts to help them. Unfortunately, sometimes a manager's best efforts don’t make the needed difference, and documentation may be necessary to support a decision to terminate employment. However, many times I have discovered that an employee didn’t realize that their behavior was creating a problem. When given the information and an opportunity to improve, they made corrections and began to thrive.
I am sure you would like to avoid a conversation that leaves you asking yourself, “What just happened?” There is an art to approaching difficult subjects in a positive manner that will create an intentional environment for growth. I hope to provide a coaching opportunity to align my teammate with the goal. I’m not going to claim I win ‘em all, but I’m sure this thoughtful preparation will put you on a path to the most positive outcome possible.
When we confront, we are trying to bring to light something that needs to be addressed. Remember, that is our perspective, but the person you are conducting the conversation with may not see it the same way, or even be aware that there is an issue or concern.
Here are my tips for mastering difficult conversations:
1) Be the example
5) Avoid back-tracking
Take confidence in knowing that confrontation, coaching, correction, acknowledgment, and encouragement are all essential aspects of leadership. When performed well, these types of communication and engagement can positively communicate needs and expectations. They can help you improve performance and grow relationships and trust with colleagues, coworkers, and personal relationships — even parenting! Learning to embrace these communication essentials will inform your team, inspire and grow you as a leader, and create better communion within your organization.
If you got to the end of this article, keep up the great work! You clearly have a heart for inspiring healthy communication and expectation transparency within your teams! You are going to do great things!
Long Live the Adventure,
We're a family who loves living life to the full. We try to live each day with intention in an effort to find gratitude, seek wonder, show love and a experience a ton of laughter.