Jack Welch Grabbed Jim McCann by the Collar
Putting off difficult conversations doesn’t help. The longer you wait, the harder they get.
Jim McCann, founder and CEO of 1-800-Flowers Inc., shared Jack Welch’s “encouragement” when it comes to having difficult conversations.
Jack grabbed Jim by the jacket lapels and said, “Jim, have you ever heard someone say, ‘I wish we’d waited six more months to fire that bastard?’”
Jim shares his reluctance and the encounter with Jack (2:49):
There’s more to tough conversations than firing people. Excellence in business and leadership is a function of difficult conversations.
Successful leaders move toward difficult conversations, not away.
You may have the tendency to close down when difficult conversations are imminent. Opening up is a better alternative. One strategy that helps is a dress rehearsal.
Jim often practices difficult conversations with his brother Chris. He explains the process in his new book, “Talk is (NOT) Cheap.” During dress rehearsal:
“Through these dry runs I am able to place a safety valve on my emotions.” Jim McCann.
Like Jim, I have trusted friends I practice with. These conversations protect, extend, and enhance leadership. The conversation may not go as planned. But, planning helps you get going and addresses apprehensions.
After venting, Jim and his brother reframe difficult conversations:
- Reconnect with your goals for the conversation.
- How can you bring about the results you desire?
- What are possible motivations of the other person?
Difficult conversation need clarity of purpose and structure.
Don’t wait for difficult conversations. “Create a structure of feedback…one that constantly communicates how things are going.” (From, “Talk is (NOT) Cheap)
How can leaders deal with reluctance to have difficult conversations?
What structure is important to difficult conversations?
Jim’s new Book, “Talk is (NOT) Cheap,” is about much more than difficult conversations. He introduces the idea of conversation leadership and applies it to management, customers, family, community, and more.
Connect with Jim:
Facebook: Talk is not Cheap Book
Thanks for the insightful thought process in preparing to have a difficult conversation. Much can be learned.
Excellent post! Good reminder that difficult conversations are the key to moving your organization forward.
it is the number one most difficult thing that leaders avoid. They play ostrich and think if they stick there head in the sand, it will go away. All big problems were small problems and grew because someone was reluctant to have that difficult conversation.
Thanks Bob. Big problems were small once. 🙂
To me the on-going dialogue of issues as they arise or “feedback structure” is the best way of coaching but unfortunately many unsuccessful folks often slough off these conversation not realizing that they are leading down a path of self-destruction. Their own lack of self-awareness gives them a sense of security. Those on-going dialogues have to carry some impact at some point to try to make the conversation be affective.
I love this post. I think practice is the key. DIfficult conversations are hard for me, but when I get it done there is a boost of confidence that follows. It has to be done and putting it off only makes it harder.
“Go Ugly Early” applies to so many situations.
LOve that expression Kathy!
Well. Thoughts are just thoughts.
If I have strong feelings in a negative fashion it is the result of the thoughts about it I chose that preceded it.
Then all I have to do is start repeating new different thoughts and I will have a different feeling.
No matter what I am feeling, I thought my way into it. I can think my way out and in reality it is the only way.
It is not easy I must say.
Plus 95% of what I tell myself never happens. At least in tge dreadful way i keep repeating to myself. The build up is much worse than what really happens, in most of my experiences. Silly me!!! I still do it, might do it today till I catch myself doing it, then choose different thoughts.
SP back to making copies of oxy
Great!! The longer we wait the more difficult they are to have and there’s a danger of greater damage being done. Role playing is a great tool. I also will reverse roles to experience both sides. Howie
Thanks Dan. I silently consume your daily posts. I appreciate you!
Vital conversations are so difficult, but so needed! Everyone has full plates, and we all are working hard to meet our goals. However when we have these vital conversations, it helps everyone. We can all use help staying on the right path. Thank you for the reminder. We all can use it!
Hey Debbie, what would happen if I repeated this to myself over and over?
Vital conversations are the easiest and produce the greatest benefit to all concerned!!!! Worked myself hp tk a fever pitch!! Where vital discussions are concerned I am an EPIC ALLSTAR!!!! When is the next one!!!!
So if I wrote that on an index card, pulled it out and looked at it three times a day for 21 days….is it possible i would, could, experience leading up to vital conversations differently in a rocking, superstar, fantabulous sorta way????
Who knows. Maybe?
One thing is absolute, the same conversation will produce the same result.
Just thinking out loud.
SP back to epic oxy producing!!!
Seems like everything in this post applies to my life right now, or brings back memories of times when I did or did not do this well.
Some to the hardest conversations are with yourself as you force yourself to face up to problems you want to ignore.
And rehearsing those conversations you have to have with others? That is right on the money. Rehearse and succeed. Don’t rehearse and you are at the mercy of every possible response.
I once accomplished something completely impossible simply through rehearsing my response to every possible objection, and visualizing a positive outcome. I replay that experience in my head each time I’m faced with another challenging conversation.
My father taught me to practice key conversations in front of a mirror, in order to check for congruence between words and physical presentation. It’s a practice that has served me well since the 5th grade. Nowadays, when I’m on the go and wish to rehearse a presentation, conversation, or a special request, the iPhone “voice memo” utility makes a good substitute for a mirror. Play back allows for visualizing what congruence will feel like.
Rock on Julie!!!
Your Dad sounds like a brilliant, insightful man.
If you have never heard of Dr Robert Cialdini….you might see and hear he is pretty cool too!
I think his website is influenceartwork.com
His book. Influence Is something I am reading and listening to at the same time cause bimodal learning is better than single mode.
There is a GREAT video free on youtube that goes over the 6 shortcuts that guide human behavior. Called science of persuasion only 11:50! I boldly predict if you watch and listen….the best 11:50 you will experience today!!!! Hehe
Listen and read these 6 guides till they sink securely in your grey matter and see how your persuasive abilities SOAR!!!
If you find it helpful, if you look and listen, share!! Remember the first shortcut, reciprocity! If it helps you, you are obligated to share it so it can help others. My reason for sharing Dr Cialdini’s work with you.
Party on Wayne, i mean Julie
SP back to getting the oxy flowing!
Uh Julia. Oops
Thanks Dauna. Love that you added internal conversations to these ideas. Getting better at talking to ourselves is part of getting better at leadership.
Great post to start the day. I find that difficult conversations are much easier to deliver and receive if it is based in a culture of feedback. If the feedback culture is one of trust and timeliness and built on the principles of growth and development, then the foundational belief that the feedback is truly in the best interest of the individual really eases the difficulty of a difficult conversation. Thanks!
It all comes down to being straight forward and honest with yourself, your peers, your team, your family, etc.. Know what is important and why, consider the other persons needs and expectations, and have a conversation that clarifies the situation. In most cases the result will be positive.
Thanks Dan. Candor is a dying art in a culture where we dance around tough issues.
100% truth spoken in a nutshell right there. It’s a dying art that is killing us in more ways that most care to admit until it’s far too late. Whether it’s our own life and health, or someone else’s. Lack of candor is a silent and deadly killer.
The patented “Good…Bad…Good” still applies in many situations.
Avoiding difficult conversations is not always just about the person (or who you are). It is often about a behavior or behaviors that can be found in other people around the world. So ignoring, avoiding, changing jobs, or moving to away doesn’t solve the problem. Look forward to reading this new book!
HI, Dan – interesting post and I will be sharing it.
An aspect of this which helped me to overcome the reluctance to have those difficult conversations involves the other person.
Rather than Welch’s approach, which is action-oriented, but focused only on the value to ourselves of action, I have seen the value of considering how having the conversation benefits the other person.
If the person is aware of their performance issue, as I believe most are, then you are just prolonging the agony for them, as well as yourself.
If the person is aware of a problem, but not cognizant of the dimensions or dynamics, you are providing valuable insight to them so they can improve.
If they are unaware that a problem exists, they are operating with the false belief that things are hunky-dory. Ever felt the pain of being blindsided by another person’s perception of your behavior?
Yes, the organization benefits when difficult conversations occur. Yes, your job as a leader and manager is made less difficult when you have the conversations. … and yes, the other person will often benefit from that conversation as well.
Now, I did not claim they would recognize the value at the time:) …
Brilliant. Thanks John.
Reblogged this on THE STRATEGIC LEARNER and commented:
Rockwell provides a look at an all-too-common leadership issue – our reluctance to confront performance issues.
Being a person who by default wants to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, this is an imortant (and timely) discussion. If we can keep sight of the good it does when we have these conversations fairly and consistently we will be farther ahead.
I love the concept of actually practicing. I have often done a dry run in my head and always try to have things that need to be covered written down. This would take it to the next level. Great post.
Thanks Paul. I’ve done the dry run thing so much now that we can naturally fall into the practice with little thought. It’s a way of exploring through role-play.
I see way to many leaders move the problem rather than eliminate the problem. They are incapable of having the tough conversation so they pass them off to someone else.
I am learning that leadership is rooted in honest communication. I Keep this in mind as I work my way toward leadership positions. Nobody benefits when clear communication is avoided.
Great story. When I was faced with needing to fire someone, one of the Board of Directors, with whom I was sharing the information said, “You know, you’re not going to get any smarter and find a way out of this. Go take care of it.” Similar. Love the blog, keep up the great work.
Great post! Difficult conversations are definitely made easier when expectations have been made clear and great lines of communication have been established. Unfortunately most managers don’t do that and therefore are not leaders. Great leaders have established that reinforce goals and expectations for the people they lead and the company. Really enjoy all your posts!
There is never an easy way to have a difficult conversation but delaying it only makes it worse. I agree that practicing and being prepared makes this type of conversation a bit better.
Engaging in difficult conversations is often the most kind thing a leader can do.
I have not had this experience first hand but I definitely get angry when someone is not pulling their own weight. It’s interesting how I let my emotions build up and never say anything to the manager of the person or try to have a conversation with the perpetrator.
My biggest challenge is striking the balance between care and candor.
Thanks Crazy… I wonder how candor and care can become two sides to the same coin. Candor without care is just plain mean. 🙂
There are times when being mean is all that comes to mind.
I LOVE when you have these audio excerpts from 1 on 1 discussions. They are usually the ideal length to get in the flow of the conversation without dragging on.
For creating a structure of consistent productive feedback I really like what Joel (of @buffer) posted recently:
“A Simple Guide to Better Coaching and Feedback in Your Company”
Note specifically that at the end of the 1:1 there is equal time (10 min each) for direct report to give feedback to leader and vice versa.
Thanks James. I’m glad the audios work. These conversations are the frosting on the cake for me.
One of the nuggets from the article you posted is establishing a regular, consistent schedule for feedback conversations. That takes all the guesswork out of the process. Plus, we don’t have to go around think, “I have to schedule a session with …”
Many difficult conversations arise in not only professional situations but in personal relationships as well. Reframing words and setting them up can save lots of emotional backlash later!
Thanks for the great post! I definitely have some things to think about as I grow in my leadership!
It takes courage to have those conversations! What a great tip! Thank you for sharing!
Great post!!! No matter how many difficult conversations you have they never get easier.
Great insight! Those conversations are a necessary evil so thanks for the tip!
We call these “courageous conversations” – easy to talk about, but not so easy to do. There can be a great deal of fear – particularly in an employment environment where some subordinates are quick to cry “harassment”, file a grievance, etc. I encourage my team to have regular conversations – schedule them or they won’t happen. And with regular conversations issues can be dealt with when they are ‘small’, which reduces the apprehension and discomfort for the manager and the employee.
Thanks Mark. “Schedule them or they won’t happen” — Bingo
This an area I’ve personally failed at too many times! Thanks for the reminder.
“difficult conversations” mitigate “crisis conversations” they allow a recovery path …and in the greatest number of cases a recovery/remedial path it best resolution
I have encouraged team members to role play difficult conversations for years but few have taken me up on the offer. I have to confess that, after my most memorable role play, the actual conversation went nothing like the role play, and I wound up being intimidated into doing the opporsite of what I set out to do. That being said, I haven’t let that setback stop me from using & recommending the tool, because so often we fail to anticipate how people will react to us.
Thanks for giving us the truth that preparation doesn’t always work. Thanks also for your transparency.
On occasion I’ve seen that when difficult conversations are had, it’s often at the breaking point, where not only emotions more difficult to control but the employee feels blindsided by both the emotion and by not having been given the benefit of the conversation earlier on. This breeds resentment towards management.
Having difficult conversations is never fun, but I’ve found that they usually don’t end up being as bad as I imagine ahead of time. People usually welcome the chance to “clear the air” and relationships get stronger once difficult conversations are had. Thank you for a great article…as always!
‘Crucial Conversations’ is one of the most important tools/skills I use in creating High Performance Corporate Cultures and Turnarounds in Organizations. Once people know the technique, they constructively open the communication flow and create a culture of collaboration and trust. A lot of gossip and frustration is eliminated as well…
Helena- The High Performance Expert
Challenging conversations take practice and transparency.
Talk definitely isn’t cheap, and I would know. I’m pursuing two BA degrees – Communication Arts and English.
I appreciate the encouragement to make rehearsal conversations an intentional exercise, rather than an incidental. When I’ve vented to smart, supportive friends, they’ve often helped me reframe my action plan in ways that have helped me make difficult decisions and have difficult conversations, and which have, on more than one occasion, redeemed a situation.
Thanks for the post – I feel that is one of the challenges that holds many good leaders back (myself included). Most of us do not enjoy these conversations, even when warranted. Having the this advice is really helpful. Fortunately I do not need it not, but this will remain in my archives.
This is a really good post. I’ve walked into many difficult discussions apprehensive – I’ve yet to regret having one after holding it.
“They had lived together for so many years that they mistook their arguments for conversations.” Marjorie Kellogg.
I agree that one of the keys to having a difficult conversation is to make the environment safe for both parties. Building a relationship based on mutual respect may be a key to future communication success.
I am probably considered too blunt by many, I speak my mind and address issues as they rise as everything is a point in time and a frame of mind. Travel light and you will be light years ahead of those that have carry on luggage so to speak. Full Disclosure …what others choose to make of it is purely up to them but at least I have given the opportunity to know where I am at and I would expect the same in return.
One additional quote you may enjoy:
“The experience of being understood, versus interpreted, is so compelling, you can charge admission.” – B. Joseph Pine II, from The Experience Economy.
Responding with courage has been my theme and focus so far this year. It is a leadership trait that I’ve not fully embodied and am working to practice daily. This post helped to encourage me that I am on the right track. Thank you.
Good stuff. Jack Welch has said that the lack of candor is the #1 roadblock holding back organizations from being effective. And the reason we hold back giving it is US. It’s uncomfortable! Kind of like throwing up–no one like to do it, but once it’s done you feel better!!
I have found that if I prepare for the difficult conversation, and depending on the specific situation, gain guidance from HR or insight from an outside source, it goes more smoothly than anticipated.
Absolutely spot on. 100% true! Dan, you are a mandatory read for me and many of my clients! Don’t know how you do it.
Great post. I also have found that having the difficult discussion sooner rather than later is better for everyone. It either helps the recipient to improve their performance or helps to lay the groundwork for them to find another job that is a better fit.
Great points. One of the toughest parts of being a leader / manager. The longer it’s put off the worse it gets. And practicing helps!
Two things resonated especially. First, “Through these dry runs I am able to place a safety valve on my emotions.” Jim McCann. In all aspects of leadership it helps me to dispose of unhelpful emotion ahead of time. The second was “Create a structure of feedback…one that constantly communicates how things are going.”
Hire slow, fire fast.
Eat the frog first thing in the morning is a comment a former boss of mine would say. Once you puke, you surely will feel better. Good advice for me to remember.
Such an interesting post and even though difficult conversations are not usually welcomed by most – they are great chances to learn and be better at leading people. I really look forward to reading you book!
Successful leaders move toward difficult situations with an expectation of growth coming out of it for themselves, the organization or another individual. They possess the efficacy that they’ll be better off by addressing the matter instead of putting it off. Consequently,they seek out difficult situations as opportunities. So much of how we choose to deal with these situations begins with our beliefs and attitudes about them. It would be good for every leader to self-examine how what they really believe and expect is shaping their decisions about acting in difficult matters.
Great reminder that putting it off does not makes the problem worse not better. I find that the longer I put it off, the harder it is and the stress of knowing the encounter has to happen takes a toll on me.
Oops! Typo – putting off make the problem worse
I practice difficult conversations before I have them – it really helps to keep the eventual conversation on track and prepares you for the twists and turns that the conversation may take.
Thanks. You have the best timing. God inspired I’m sure! Everyday you offer another insight tidbit to get the mind moving forward to better leadership in me.
Perfect timing! Thank you.
Particularly like this: “Excellence in business and leadership is a function of difficult conversations.
Successful leaders move toward difficult conversations, not away.” Too often we avoid the difficult conversations, This makes things more difficult for us and, more importantly, our team members over the long term.
Liked the post & the opening statement- ‘Putting off difficult conversations doesn’t help. The longer you wait, the harder they get’. Procrastination is a great evil for leaders and should be avoided at every cost since problems aggregate and do more of damages.
Good leaders are known for taking the harsh decisions including the layoff, closure or selling the loss-making business. Similarly, problematic and unproductive people need to be weeded out quickly. They are courageous, quick in taking corrective actions and moving forward by creating winning teams. Performance becomes a key measuring element to meet future challenges in time.
I aim to remove emotion from the process. I don’t “fire” people. I “release them from employment.” If performance is handled incrimentally along the way, both parties should agree that the job is not a good fit and the natural best solution for the company and the individual is to release the person to pursue other work.
Thanks Sara. Jim makes the same point. Emotion doesn’t help these conversations… at least anger.
Good mornoning Dan;
Challenging conversations are only difficult if we make them difficult. Conversations regarding dicsapline and even termination can be positive ‘if’ we choose to make them so. The object of these conversations is to bring to the individuals attention to deficencies that need improvement while giving them the tools, proper training/mentoring to accpomplish task’s. Once these goals are met acknowledge the individuals sucess with a sincere “atta-boy” for a job well done. The determining factor to how the employee views these conversations is the heart of the supervisor/leader. The purpose is to lift up, NOT, tear down!!!
P.S. “Got THE e-mail today, (it won’t be long) !!!
Can you feel my excitement???
I love how in the audio clip he addressed that not only does he (and his stomach) feel better, but so does the other person.
I have discovered that on both sides. If we can communicate effectively, everyone is clear on expectations. That, then, gives people the opportunity to rise or fall from there. Truthfully, it is unfair to hold people to a standard that we are not honest or direct enough to articulate. I would much rather know where I stand with someone, or on a project, or within an organization than to fly blindly.
Great topic today!
I like Jack Welch’s candor, and applaud his highlighting the need to hold difficult conversations rather than avoiding them.
One thing I disagree with is Jack’s characterization of the person who should have been fired as a “bastard”, not so much because the word is rough and probably inexact, but because it shows a degree of anger and arrogance unbecoming of a leader.
The boss is not inherently better than the employee, and the employee bad. In fact, the boss should be reprimanded for hiring the underperforming employee in the first place and tolerating inacceptable behavior for 6 months.
Candor should be direct, may incorporate rebuke, but should but loving – even when firing people. To quote the Paul’s exhortation to a young Timothy, “convince, rebuke, exhort, with all patience and teaching”. One can be both strict and kind.
Arrogant people-bashing is not leadership.
Thanks Marc. Many agree with you. In the book, Jim McCann explains that collar grabbing isn’t his style either. 🙂
Candor without kindness is just mean. Glad you jumped in.
I think encouragement is important to deal with reluctance to have difficult conversations. There might be many factors from both side that influence reluctance in conversations. Being leader, it is important to connect and appreciate the others point, even if it is not. This provides confidence in others. Similarly, when leaders face reluctance, then it is important to raise fundamental question to self- what prevents conversations. I think, this reflection can provide some answer.
In the system, there should be clear structure on various level. For example, from line to top/senior level, hierarchy make sense. The reason is simple. Many people do not have enough ideas and also level of conversation differs.If senior management wants to start conversations with line management, there might be many factors that hinder the conversation. One could be level of comfort. So, it is utmost important to create a feeling of comfort, flexibility, appreciation, reward and affection before engaging into conversations.
Yes, I agree that you need to move towards difficult conversations. Many do move away. Many more handle difficult conversations with a bluff rudeness and aggression, and this is the wrong thing to do.
We do a disservice to our employees when we fail to have the tough conversations that they need to determine if they need to move up or out.
I practice in front of a mirror – I find that really helps me to judge my nonverbal communication. Thanks for the article.
sometimes just getting the difficult conversations started is the most important thing, how many conversations should we be having and we don’t have them?
Has anyone read both this book and Crucial Conversations? I’d like to know if there was any differences or contradictions in tips and tricks.
Nothing is really jumping off the page at me in this one
I haven’t read “Crucial Conversations,” can’t help.
“Crucial Conversations” follows a similar vein, encouraging early and earnest conversations rather than putting them off, and giving tips as to how to hold them.
Although not specifically mentioned in the book, the key to having such conversations is love. A leader who loves those he/she leads won’t wait more than necessary to have the conversation, no matter how awkward it may be. He/she will also approach the delicate subject with care. An excellent example of such an approach is Paul’s letter to Philemon.
Not having the difficult conversations is a set up for passive aggressive behavior. Then passive aggressive behavior becomes like a frayed wire; you never know when it’s going to trip. It’s a lot easier to fix the frayed wire than to rebuild the house. I think it behooves me to ask: “If I don’t address this, where will it lead?” Thanks for the reminder that big problems were once small ones.
Totally agree Courtney. And this leads us back to needing to address the root cause of the difficulty in the first place. Why isn’t it safe to be honest with this person? And/or What am I afraid will happen if I speak up and address this? And what payoff do they, we, or I receive for maintaining the status quo of silence?
Avoidance and silence don’t make problems go away. We can bit our tongues yet those emotions don’t go away. They leak out anyway and often in passive aggressive ways if being direct isn’t or doesn’t appear to be ‘safe’.
Read “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott. Great guide on how to have those difficult conversations. Also helpful for talking with spouses and children!
What do you all think about the knowledge base of the person with whom you practice? I try to practice some of these conversations with my husband, but he is in a field 100% different from mine so technical things and industry standards rarely make sense to him. Can you still have effective “practice conversations” with people who aren’t in the thick of the situation?
Thanks Caroline. I wonder if a person from a different field might be able to tell you how you are making them feel, even if they can’t evaluate technical accuracy???
As I was reading this it clicked with me that my best friend practices on me all the time – ha! Interesting…
Difficult conversations are a tough sale, sometimes you have to do what you have to do, if that means firing someone for the failure to come around so be it,although I do believe in plenty of warnings before the inevitable! Sad but true! One bad apple spoils the rest…
rehearsing is such a good idea, scripting is even better!
I believe the anticipation of a difficult conversation is the worst part! I agree, get it done and possibly turn it into a positive learning opportunity.
Thank you so much for these words, preparing for a difficult discussion next week.
I can’t agree more. It is never easy, but the sooner it is dealt with, the more opportunity there is to move forward.I often try to think again of what the worse that can happen and in education I keep a photo of my own children in my office – I look at them and say, “Would this be ok if it were MY own children?” Then it gets easier!
Good stuff. Putting off “difficult” conversations makes it more challenging – emotions are higher, frustration is expanded, trust is eroded, and energy is wasted.
I am completely enthralled with the idea of “conversation leadership”! To have this kind of prowess for any type of dialogue (be it home, work, etc.) that does occur in our daily lives would be such an advantage…for the person who possesses this ability and for the other person he/she is having the discourse with. I would l.o.v.e. a copy of Jim McCann’s new book. As an Employee Relations specialist, can you imagine how many people and lives could be touched by this concept? Thank you for your consideration!
I am a huge fan of your work. Continued dedication to helping others grow does not go unnoticed. I would love to continue learning by reading the new book and promoting your brand in the future. Thanks again, you are the best!
Interesting idea that he practices his difficult conversations ahead of time. Definitely something I’ll consider doing.
I’m going into a meeting in the next few days to deal with a pair of lone ranger workers who preceded me and have been allowed to lead their group far from the trail. I might not collar anyone, but this encourages me to speak the truth calmly and directly, and be willing to let them go, if need be.
Great post! So relevant to a conversation I just had yesterday. I can see me forwarding this in a few moments!
I have always hated the ‘difficult conversation’. However, I have hated how not initiating it has made me feel internally more. I will have to use the tactic of practice. In the past, by not practicing far too much emotion showed up and made the situation worse. Thanks for the post.
Thanks mae, Practice may not address every issue that arises. But, it definitely helps with the emotion associated with the situation.
I also enjoy hearing the perspective that comes from my practice partner. It often expands my thinking.
Always remember that the conversation has multiple sides. Practicing what you’ll say only gets you half way, you need to be prepared to listen as well.
Enjoyed the post today–very encouraging! I tend to avoid difficult conversations and it is one area of weakness I am working on this year. Sounds like this book would be a great help!
Difficult conversations are also some of the most freeing conversations that I have had. You can’t and won’t move forward until you deal with what is in your way.
Interesting post today! In my experience, preparation is the key to any difficult conversation. I like to research facts, make notes and try to anticipate the flow of the discussion. How will it begin? What kind of response(s) could I get? How would I like it to end? Verifying all relavent facts are very important because they prevent me making any off-the-cuff emotional comments in the heat of the discussion.
Dauna’s comments were right on for me. Whenever I know that I must have ‘that’ conversation,’ I really get kind of excited. I know that I am dealing with a problem, and that I need to find the solutions. And I need to be capable of laying out a plan(s) that allows the other person to understand the issues, and be able to see that they can be part of the solution. And i have the ultimate solution available, if it is needed. Laying the conversation out in your mind and practiciing it will give you the opportunity to see that your position is strong, or that you need to be stronger. All of your communication topics are thought provoking and add value for us. Thank you.
I agree with Alex (above). We all are great a practicing our speeches. How many of us are practiced listeners?
The fear of having these difficult conversations has brought public education to the state it is in today.
The difficult conversations make the team stronger. Hard in the immediacy but builds team capacity through trust. Persevere and push through. Good motto (from My Bride) True, not mean
Probably the tougher conversation is to try the coaching and counseling. Being real and addressing the issues to try to “rehabilitate” the person before sacking them.
I never really thought about it before but I guess I do “practice runs,” as well. Mostly, I give myself at least 24 hours so the talk is not an emotional response but a well-thought out discussion.
Confrontation is never fun but, better to be “nipped in the bud” before the issue progresses to a real problem.
Great post! Thought provoking – my favorite kind! Thank you!
This is well scripted a conversation between a disciplined & empathetic individual and their view points about the situation. Its very sensitive situation when we come across this scenario. Jack has described from his experience and Jim from his expertise about people management.
Dealing with reluctance is a challenging situation and when ice is broken, you win the heart and nothing stops you from there.
Glad I read & listened to this post. In my dealings, one of the fears/concerns with difficult conversations is what if they quit (when they are needed with a star contributor to the team). I have discovered that the advice above & Seth Godin’s advice about irrational fear helps. You need to face the fear & realize it won’t be a fatal error to the team if they quit. If you have hired the right people, others will step up if someone leaves. Also , my view, the longer you delay the conversation other team members will view you as allowing/sanctioning incompetence/misbehavior. Sanctioned incompetence/misbehavior can rapidly demoralize your team.
The tendency can be to avoid difficult conversations. But even though you can avoid them for a while, the need never goes away. In fact most of the time, it gets much worse.
It’s so easy to “wait” to have THE conversation. It’s important to face the brutal facts and take the time to have the conversation. I often think that the outcome might be different or “safer” if I wait just one more day. I think this is a book I need to check out.
Role playing a difficult conversation in a benign environment with a trusted peer is critical to being prepared for the actual event. It gets you emotionally, and mentally in the game for what is to come. And you can practice keeping the discussion focused.
I find that the only reason to avoid a difficult conversation is within ourselves and not having solid conflict resolutions in place. You can rehearse a conversation all you want but it rarely plays out as planned because you can’t forecast the response. Having a clear resolution before going in will help guide the outcome.