What is it about some people that make them so great at leading people? Is it their conversational style? Is it their personality? Or is it a person’s ability to approach crucial conversations in a way that is respectful and effective?
Having the right approach might sound simple…The truth is that simple doesn’t always mean easy. Some common topics that leaders face are:
- Giving an unfavorable performance review
- Talking to a team member who is missing deadlines
- Addressing a team member about missed expectations
- Giving the boss feedback about anything
- Addressing inappropriate behavior with a team member
The list could go on. At the core of every successful conversation lies the free flow of information. People willingly and capably share their views even when their ideas are controversial or unpopular.
How well do you handle these types of conversations? Do you avoid them, hoping the problem will somehow fix itself or just go away? We all know that won’t happen.
Do you handle them poorly? Do you somehow allow your anger and frustrations to takeover the conversation? This usually results in the loss of trust and respect of both people involved.
Or, do you handle them well? Do you lead the conversation with the intent to create common understanding and progress? The concept of intent is critical to a respectful, effective conversation.
Here are a few tips for improving your ability to address crucial conversations:
- Identify what you really want. What is the goal you’re trying to achieve? Is it to help the person understand what performance areas need improvement and create a plan to get there? Or is the goal to tell them how poorly they are performing? Is it about creating documentation or building confidence? When you know what you really want it’s easier to stay focused and create a common purpose with the other person.
- Stay in dialogue. A conversation that is one-sided is not dialogue. Facilitate responses from others if they are having difficulty talking. Getting all parties to get all the relevant information out on the table and create a shared pool of understanding allows for perspective.
- Compare. If you disagree with the other person, compare your path with the other person’s. Rather than suggesting that he or she is wrong, suggest that you differ. He or she may in fact be wrong, but you won’t know until you hear both sides of the story. Candidly state, “I think I see things differently. Let me describe how.”
There are many steps in increasing your ability and confidence in approaching controversial conversations. And we’ve only mentioned a few. Your ability to approach crucial conversations in a way that is respectful and gets all the relevant information out on the table is one way to greatly improve your effectiveness when working with others.