Ever struggle to find just the right words when you’re in a sensitive conversation? If you’re in a leadership role, it’s not uncommon. If you’re like many of the executives I coach, you just want to get things done, but “people issues” get in the way. While the words you choose to use are important, there are other factors that matter as well.
Here are some quick tips to help you address difficult people and situations as they arise.
Intention: What do you want to happen as a result of the conversation you now need to have? Be clear about the purpose or expectation you have for the conversation. For example, your intention may be to encourage some type of change or to help someone improve performance. Maybe you’re trying to smooth relationships.
Tone: What do you want the person to feel as a result of the conversation? Encouragement? Trust? Willingness to improve? Keep your tone light when you can. If you are stressed and serious, other people will sense that. Have a positive expectation for the conversation.
Questions: Hear the difference between “WHAT were you thinking?” And “What do you think you can do differently next time?” Use good questions to help bring out the best in others, not to shut them down.
Timing: Timing is everything. If you are reacting to a person or situation that makes you angry, wait. Allow the dust in your mind to settle. Many times the situation is not as bad as it first appears. Even if you’re ready to have the conversation, the timing may be off for the other person. Read the other person. Open a difficult conversation when people are more likely to be receptive.
More people and companies are recognizing the value of coaching conversation to address difficult issues. They realize the role of the lead is not always to solve problems, but to be a good coach or mentor–to build capability in others. Whether you are trying to improve a difficult situation or develop a top performer, make your conversation count.
Gayle Lantz is a leadership consultant, speaker, author and founder of WorkMatters, Inc. She works with organizations, executives and top performers who are serious about growing their businesses and themselves.