From teachers to doctors, storekeepers to salesmen, there is one thing everyone in the work force will face sooner or later. Difficult conversations with co-workers and employees are inevitable. That dreaded moment, when you are the one appointed to talk with an employee about something difficult to address, may go more smoothly, if you’ve considered some professional strategies. Possibly you have been asked by other employees to speak to one of the men or women on staff about their body odor; or maybe it is somewhat simpler like inquiring why someone has been late three days in a row.
Either way there are good and bad ways to handle these situations. I recently took a short course at Poynter. News University. It was entitled Dealing With Difficult Conversations. Here Jill Geisler goes through the five styles of conflict resolution. She talks about how we all have a natural bent to try to solve conflict in one of five ways—competition, compromise, collaboration, accommodation, or avoidance. We may even have a combination of these, but Geisler goes through some of the most effective strategies.
Here are just a few pointers given by Geisler.
1. Use a collaboration form of conflict resolution; this way both parties can walk away feeling like they have been heard. In this case, an effort is made to put together all the ideas from two differing sides, in order to have the best possible outcome.
2. When you go to have a difficult conversation with someone pull him or her aside; don’t do it where others can hear and the individual could experience further embarrassment. Also get straight to the point and don’t try to put the blame on others, when explaining why a certain decision was reached.
3. Guard yourself; you may need to let someone over you know what is going on. In some circumstances it may even be good to have a person from Human Resources, be part of the meeting. Finally, when closing out conversations go back and review what has been said. Make sure you are both leaving on the same page.
I hope some of these pointers are helpful, and if you want to learn more, make an account at newsu.org and take the Dealing With Difficult Conversations course.