Provided by: Raise Your Game
Effective coaches and leaders stand firm in telling their people what they need to hear, not necessarily what they want to hear. Trust and truth go hand in hand and feed each other. You have to tell the truth to earn trust. And you must have trust that the person is going to tell you the truth. Remember: Time never makes tough conversations easier. Confront issues early and directly.
Step 1: Create a Safe Environment
This is an ongoing process, and it's mandatory if there is going to be the necessary trust required for a tough conversation to be productive and smooth. Think about the difference in food quality between something cooked in an oven and something given a minute in a microwave. Real relationships take time.
Step 2: Keep It Professional
It's important not to swerve into the personal. Confront issues and behavior, not people. Trust they can handle it and don't assume you know what their responses will be. Never initiate when angry, frustrated, or disappointed as you are more likely to lose your professionalism in these emotional states.
Step 3: Be Respectful
Remember: in person > phone > e-mail > text.
Give the person the respect they deserve. Be honest and direct, but with respect and tact. Reduce innate barriers and defensiveness through word choice, such as:
Step 4: Watch Your Language
Feelings are always valid; actions are not. Just because something is understandable doesn't mean it's acceptable. Never assign blame - use "I" statements ("I'm feeling" > "you make me feel").
Step 5: Empathize and Clarify
Ask for their perspective and then listen. Do not interrupt; allow them to have a full response. Specifically ask for clarification if needed. Affirm and validate their feelings and intentions without judgment.
Step 6: End Strong
Thank them and acknowledge them for having the conversation.
After an appropriate length of time, formally follow up to resolve and move forward.