Difficult Convesations Part 2

In the first part of this blog series the setting for the discomfort felt by both the manager (speaker) and the staff member (listener) was explored. Often the discomfort felt by the manager is momentarily acknowledged then put aside as though it shouldn’t happen and it is weak or poor management to feel this way.

However, denying this discomfort exists does not allow the manger to ‘show up’. The first step in trying to make this difficult conversation less difficult is for the manager to identify and accept their emotions and concerns about this conversation.

The second step is for the manager to explore the drivers underlying their emotions and to do this with a curious approach –not to gloss over these concerns and discount them and not to accept the first layer of exploration as being deep enough. Once the discomfort is recognised and acknowledged, the manager can enter into the next step in the process of being detached (so that the exploration does not cause any emotional discomfort).

This allows the manager to undergo a logical deconstruction of why they are feeling like this. As part of this process, the manager should continue to ask themselves questions until the naming of the underlying issues resonates with the manager as being true. This is like reaching an ‘aha’ moment. The manager can now align what they are required to do (hold the conversation) with their own values and apply a solution focused approach to construct the conversation (purpose, content and choice of language) without the distraction of their emotions negatively influencing this process. 

After all, this conversation should be about the staff member and the real or actual message that needs to be delivered to them. This conversation doesn’t need to be and shouldn’t be coloured by the discomfort felt by the manager.

If you are looking for tips to better manage a difficult conversation, look out for our next blog on this subject matter and contact us at Workplace Harmony Solutions to find out more about training and 1-1 executive coaching options.

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About the Author

Catherine Gillespie brings a wealth of skill to her clients. With particular expertise in teaching communication and workplace conflict resolution skills, Catherine has made a marked difference to the organisations she has worked with. She empowers teams and managers to adopt constructive styles that support harmony, productivity and progress in the workplace.