This is the fourth blog on the subject of difficult conversations. You can read the first article here, the second article here and third article here.
The manager, needing to navigate and present a difficult conversation cannot do so from a mindful and emotionally intelligent state unless they have already addressed the processes outlined in the first three blog posts.
In this fourth space; the manager having addressed each preceding step, can enter the conversation with a clear focus to not only deliver the necessary information but now be free from any other hindrance and distraction and concentrate on the moment to moment interactions as they unfold. Being mindful in each moment allows the manager to show interest in, be concerned for and appropriately respond to the staff member. Because this part of the conversation cannot be planned for, the manager must be ready to respond as is needed ‘in the moment’.
The manager should have planned the discussion allowing the staff member more room at the beginning of the meeting to offer their perspective and ask questions. Usually at the beginning of such a meeting, the manager does all of the talking which does nothing but frustrate the listener who believes they have valid material to contribute but are not being invited to do so. A manager in this ‘fourth’ space is calm and confident and doesn’t need to launch into their planned content. Instead, they are able to introduce the purpose of the meeting, a brief overview and then allow the staff member the space they need to work through the meeting at the pace that suits them and not forced upon them by the manager.
While this approach may seem daunting or a waste of time, the meeting ends up not being as long as it might have seemed it would take and by the end of the meeting, both parties end up having much more respect for each other and the professional relationship that exists between them. The staff member will be more accepting that it is the manager’s role to offer feedback and with the relationship in tact (if not improved) both parties can move to the addressing the action plan (discussed and developed together) required to achieve the best outcome from the situation.
Not taking time and effort to have the conversation in this space will mean that the discomfort both parties would have felt in the meeting is then transferred into every following interaction they have. Why wouldn’t a manager invest in fully preparing for this meeting rather than face continuing time in the future (perhaps many years) of uncomfortable interactions?
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.