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How to have those awkward conversations EASILY and EFFECTIVELY

Updated: Aug 21, 2022

Yesterday we looked at focusing on the facts, or behaviour of an individual, and not getting caught up in the emotion of a situation. This prompted some great response so today I am continuing the theme to expand on this further. After all, we all have to have difficult conversations at some point.

Tip 3

Don’t make it about them.

Yesterday I described how you can tackle a difficult conversation by addressing the issue, not the emotion, and by sticking to the facts.

When you are addressing the facts of an issue, you are de-personalising it and this helps to reduce the emotional impact of the meeting. By not ‘making it about them’ you are not directly challenging their value as an individual. You are not insinuating that whatever they have done makes them less of a person, you are simply dealing with the situation.

“Everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have available”

I love this statement accredited to NLP. (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). Although not an ‘NLPer’ I keep it in mind nearly every day and find it a great help and inspiration.

The person sitting opposite you is doing the best they can with the emotional resources they have. It does not mean they are better or worse than you, just different. Unique. They are doing the best they can, even if it is not good enough for what you need right now.

Let’s take 2 carers arguing in front of a service user and using inappropriate language.

Example 1: “YOU really let the service and YOURSELF down, YOUR terrible behaviour has to stop. I can’t believe YOU would act in such a way”

This example challenges the individual directly and is likely to elicit a defensive response. A form of defence is often attack!

Example 2: “Using inappropriate language and arguing in front of a service user is always unacceptable. This needs to stop immediately”

Example 2 is clear, concise and to the point. It focuses on the behaviour and is not directly challenging to an individual’s sense of self worth.

In the same manner, don’t make it about you either. As I explained in Tip 1, you are simply dealing with the issue.

Oh, and don’t forget how awesome you are.

See you next time when we shall look at the thorny issue of Overthinking

Martyn Dawes is a Coach, Social Care Consultant, and Author of The Overwhelmed Manager: What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

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