Courageous Conversations: Dos and Don’ts
Praise in public. Criticize in private.
Never send an email or text in place of having a conversation.
Avoid using the word ‘but’ because of its negative connotation.
Ask yourself, “How would I feel if someone talked to me this way? Would I be motivated to work towards a solution, or would I feel the need to defend myself?”
Use “mandatory” if you want behavior to change. If the senior leader says a behavior is “expected,” only about 26% of leaders feel they must comply. If the senior leader elevates the word to “required,” a full 69% of leaders feel they must comply. It isn’t until the word “mandatory” is used that almost all leaders, a full 98%, feel they must comply.
Avoid the tendency to downplay or enable the behavior.
Always document the conversation.
HELPFUL KEYWORDS AND PHRASES:
I value you as a colleague.
I wanted you to know this because I value you.
You’re a great coworker and I like working with you.
I’m concerned. I know this is a stressful time for you.
Ask: “Is there anything wrong that you’d like to talk about?.”
References: Cunningham, Lynn. (2015). Taking Conversations from Difficult to Doable: Three Models to Master Tough Conversations. Pensacola: Fire Starter Publishing.
Keane, Beth. (2011). Spinach in Your Teeth Messages: the Art of Giving (and Receiving) Honest Feedback.