As someone who teaches courage skills for business people, December is my jam. The choices we humans make under year-end pressures are so illuminating. And December of 2020?
[ insert your favorite Macaulay Culkin Home Alone meme here ]
There’s no vaccine for bad workplace behavior. Yet.
Put a bunch of people together, in-person or virtually, and you’re bound to get friction. Slack channel snipes, sarcastic asides, stolen staplers. Zoom minutes lost to “whose life is harder” debates. People skirting responsibility, throwing tantrums, unfairly judging, and doling out brutal honesty when kindness would have been nice. Oof.
It’s time to brush up on your “we need to talk” talks.
Sure, you can avoid these prickly tête-a-têtes. You can wait for someone else to say what needs to be said. You can issue passive aggressive policies and hope people just get it. Or? Or you could teach yourself to guide errant team members in a way that leaves everyone feeling respected, even energized. Your 2021 could depend on it!
Courageous conversations focus on behaviors, not traits.
Courageous conversations are about fine tuning attitudes, behaviors, and skills. They promote understanding, mutually satisfying outcomes, cohesive teams, and business success. So, until someone comes up with a vaccine for destructive behavior, try to remember these STEPS:
- Start by being very SPECIFIC about your desired outcome. This will help you talk with intention and keep outside issues from derailing the discussion. “You need to be more professional,” is vague. “Let’s agree on what we mean by professional,” is specific.
- Next, consider TIMING. The right time for a talk might be immediately after something happens. If emotions are high, however, you may need to hold off – for two hours, two days, even two weeks – until you can come together using your intellect, not raw emotions.
- Now you’re ready to talk about the EFFECT the person’s words or actions have on coworkers, the team, customers, the organization. Destructive behaviors arise out of a lack of awareness of their effect on others. Articulating the damage that’s being done can be eye-opening.
- P is for PERFORMANCE-based. It’s a reminder to avoid judgment or attacks. This is where you agree on the solution, the change in behavior that can bring about the outcome you specified at the start of the conversation.
- Finally, you need to define SUCCESS and offer ongoing SUPPORT. Paint a vivid picture of what success will look like and commit to something you will do to support them in this behavioral change. This step is critical, so be sure not to skip it.
Got a tough conversation that’s been keeping you up at night? Still festering over a conversation that went horribly wrong? Try applying the STEPS and see if that brings clarity and understanding. Tell me about it in the comments!