It happens, you and a team member are getting along just fine when suddenly you don’t see eye to eye. You know you should talk with them, but you don’t want to strain the relationship. However, your relationship with your team, and especially your leaders will require you to sit down and have face-to-face critical conversations with them at times. So, how do you go about initiating that critical conversation?
We’ll give you a hint—it’s not how you would think.
It all starts with you. You need to spend some time thinking about the conversation—and not just about how you will get the results you want. If you prepare right, you will be able to actually listen and remain in control of your own emotions.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the purpose for this conversation? In a nutshell, what outcome do you want to accomplish by talking to this team member? Make sure that you don’t have any hidden or unintentional purposes. If you do, your language might come across as excessively critical or condescending. Make sure your purpose is as supportive as possible for both parties involved.
- What are you assuming about your team member’s intentions? If you are feeling ignored or intimidated for example, don’t just assume that was the other person’s intent. Try to keep an open mind. You might not know what’s going on in their life and in their mind.
- Are your own emotions getting in the way? We all have sensitive points or “buttons” that heighten our emotions. Try to find out the real reason you are upset. This way, you can recognize exactly how much the emotional element in the conversation is coming from you, and you can better express it.
- What attitude do you have about this pending conversation? If you think there’s no way this conversation will go well, you’re probably right. But, if you feel like some good will come of talking, then again, you’re probably right. Make sure you have a positive attitude from the start.
- Is your team member aware of the situation? While this isn’t always the case, the other person might not even be aware that something is wrong. If they are, see the problem from their point of view—put yourself in their shoes. Determine if you both have common concerns and goals.
- How have you contributed to the problem? The phrase “it takes two to tango” is cliché for a reason. Keep from solely blaming the other person by realizing what your part in the problem is before you start talking to them. Once you are truly aware of your own position in the conversation, you’ll be surprised how easy the next part will go. For the rest of the month, we will talking about having critical conversations with your team members and how to effectively build strong, productive relationships.