7 Elevator Conversations

Tough conversations are like riding an elevator. There comes a point, if you don’t speak, talking is nearly impossible.

the longer you wait the tougher it is to speak

7 elevator conversations:

  1. Performance issues. (Especially with higher ups.)
  2. Changes that impact status within organizations.
  3. Disappointment with new hires.
  4. Processes that have outlived their usefulness.
  5. Interpersonal tensions.
  6. Disagreement with higher ups.
  7. Follow up that falls through. Deadlines that come and go.

Leaders who can’t have tough conversations stagnate in frustration.

7 ways to solve the elevator problem:

#1. Bring up tough issues with compassion. Don’t use anger as courage.

#2. Bring up tough issues quickly. One way to solve the elevator problem is to start talking when you step in.

#3. Let go the need to have a solution before having conversations. Negative situations drag on, when leaders need to know-all and decide-all.

Adopt a “find a solution” approach.

#4. State the “better”. Leaders fall short when they focus on things they don’t want.

Spend 30% of your time discussing problems and 70% creating “better”.

#5. Declare concerns with optimism. Try saying, “I’m concerned about hurting people’s feelings, but I believe we can make things better if we deal with this issue.”

#6. Flex your “tough conversation” muscles frequently. Try including the following questions in daily conversations:

  • What’s working? Speak positives at least 4x more often than negatives. Walk around looking for behaviors, progress, or results to praise.
  • What could be better? Get beyond, “Nothing could be better.” You might respond, “You mean we’re in heaven? There must be something that could be better.”
  • What do we need to stop doing?
  • What am I doing that’s helpful? (What are you doing that’s helpful?)
  • How might I/you be more helpful?
  • What’s the next step? Get specific.
  • When can you let me know?
  • What are we/you avoiding?

#7. Forget about perfection.

Perfection blocks better.

What tough conversations do leaders avoid?

How might tough conversations become a regular part of organizational life (without become negative)?