7 ways of dealing with difficult conversations
Conducting a team workshop the other day, I was interested to learn that 50% of the managers attending, claimed that difficult conversations with employees as the biggest challenge in their role. The subject of these conversations ranged from absenteeism, personal hygiene, behavioural and performance issues. It got me thinking about how we can deal with difficult conversations so that we can be courageous in thought and heart led by conviction. Here are my top 7 tips to dealing with difficult conversations/communication:
I went out for a meal a couple of months back in Kuwait where I am currently doing some consultancy work. A group of us decided to try out the plethora of eating establishments in the local shopping mall. All the restaurants seemed busy competing for customers as they walked through the mall. We chose a large Lebanese style restaurant with a fantastic large kitchen at the rear that was open to the tables so that you could see the chefs all preparing and cooking food. The waiters all seemed under pressure to serve their respective tables, rushing around looking flustered, but mine seemed happy to stay a while with me at the table and talk. I found out he was actually the owner of the restaurant, so in some ways, he was leading the way as well as finding out at the ‘coal face’ what his customers were saying and thinking about his business.
I asked him how he felt he was doing and he replied by saying that in his competitive market he needed to make the effort, a real effort – constantly. He had 5 Golden Rules that he sought to apply every day in order to stay in front of his rivals, and he spread these to his staff to employ as well. These were:
Improve – always aim to get better (excellence is good enough) and seek diligently to discover ways in which you might do even better each time.
Observe – talk and watch the people you work with and your customers (and most important listen to them).
Connect – treat everyone with respect (make them feel ‘special’) like they were your best friends.
Adapt – uncertainty appears to be the new ‘norm’ today so prepare to be nimble and flexible at all times.
Smile – Smiling opens up an inter-personal ‘contract’ with your customers, and allows you to come to them from a heart based perspective.
I thought about what he said and started to apply that to my interactions with customers and clients. It made an immediate impact as I started to win more business but more importantly, it helped me to retain the clients that I already had. I also felt good about what I was doing; customers became friends rather than solely a means to sustain the bottom line that only shows impersonal figures, targets and forecasts.
Although they are simple ‘rules’ to follow, they have to be diligently applied and constantly reviewed with self-feedback as well as gaining customer review to see if you are hitting the nail on the head each time. Try these out, believe me they work! If you are working in the service industry, remember that's exactly what you must do – serve, but in such a way that you connect strongly with your customer to create an atmosphere that is bother interesting and productive every time.
Everyone needs to understand themselves and I mean, really understand themselves. We often think we do know ‘me’, but the reality for many of us is that we neither bother to explore ourselves, think it is a waste of time or worse still, believe there is no real benefit to discovering what makes us tick. Often it will take a major ‘incident’ or crisis before we start to examine who and what we are. The ancients Greeks got it right – there, still standing after nearly 3000 years in Apollo’s temple at Delphi, is the carved statement at the entrance stating for all to see just two words ‘gnōthi seautón’ ‘know thyself’.
Deep down is where our true nature arises. It is a quest to get there; it can also be an experience if we allow it. The more we go down, the more transparent we can be as well more ‘real’ to ourselves. Once we restore touch with our real self, in some cases called our inner guide, then we can begin to visualise how we are now and what we need from this point on. When we reach that point, we do not just endure, we are ‘released’ and we thrive.
Digging down as deep as we can go to ask the questions of ourselves is more than simply skimming the surface. Our society would lead us to think that peeling back the surface area levels like an onion, is all that is needed in order to comprehend our own selves and also to get over challenges/negative experiences from the past. Of course, this is not real and I presume that you currently recognize this. Like the iceberg, there is much below the surface…
To thrive, we need to be completely honest with ourselves. We require the nerve to to recognize and own our errors, welcome honest feedback, as well as honour our strengths so we can explore exactly what is meaningful in our lives. If we do not then we just enable the obstacles we encounter in life to become overwhelming. Once we have the courage to seek who we are and what genuinely fulfills us, then we are establishing a strong mind, body and soul connection.
These attributes are the birthplace of a fulfilling life and the passion that goes with it. We are all called to navigate unpredictability, sometimes danger as well as the unforeseeable. What is being described today as 'mental strength' enables us bring into play our self-confidence so we can confidently move onward when confronted with obstacles that attempt to stop or slow us down.
Once you find your passion, you will find your purpose. Here are 5 recommendations on how to connect with your passion so you can thrive:
Digging down to expose our true nature can be hard work, but it’s worth the effort. You can achieve whatever you want in life, the biggest achievement however, is knowing yourself.