Difficult conversations

Difficult conversations

During a recent speaking engagement, I was asked a very interesting question as part of the Q&A that I wanted to share with you via a blog:

Question: I am having a real issue with a few members of my team. They really will not listen and keep trying to find pick arguments. I have tried having a diplomatic conversation but nothing is working. How would you approach this?

Answer: This is a really common issue and one that I’ve seen a few times in my career. My first recommendation is to keep the conversation and discussion as factual as possible and remove any emotion from the discussion. This could go something like this:

  1. Can you please provide me an example of one of the issues that you mention?
  2. How would you like me to progress / resolve this?

Once you have a clear idea of the issue, you can then work on resolving the issue. An example could be:

  1. They have an issue with your communication style: look at if this is actually an issue or if it’s just an opinion
  2. They dislike your management style: This is most commonly Micro manager vs. Empowered leader and whether your team member likes or dislikes this way of managing. In my experience, you can support and adjust your management style to fit and work with your team, if appropriate
  3. Personality clash/conflict: If there is simply a clash or difference in how you like to work, then I’d suggest looking to see if you can adjust your management style or if the person could be moved to a team with someone that they do gel with.

Most recently, I have been coaching someone who has really struggled with the personality clash with some of their team members and it stems from a cultural background for how people can be empowered/trusted to work. It would be most opportune to try and ensure that can facilitate a good working relationship with all of your team members and seeing how you can best work together. Depending on resourcing / alternatives, you can also look at the best way to work effectively despite your differences. To be able to facilitate this, I recommend the following:

  • Remain professional at all time. Do not try to become everyone’s best friend or buddy
  • Find common /neutral ground. If you can find something that would help or keep your team aligned then this could also help your overall team motivation and project delivery

Whilst having difficult conversations may not be that fun or pleasant, it is a necessary part of being a leader and learning the best way to navigate them, will surely help your overall leadership style and skill.

How do you manage difficult conversations? Let me know in the comments or via DM.

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