Friday, 9 June 2017

8 hot tips for courageous conversations at work

Have you ever wished you had the courage to speak up and engage in a difficult conversation at work? Giving tough feedback to a subordinate, challenging your boss on a highly controversial topic, going to your boss’s boss when you feel you are stuck… these are concrete examples of conversations which might seem daunting but are critical if you aspire to be an authentic leader.

Tip #1 : start by having the courageous conversation with yourself 
Why is this topic important to you? In what ways does it impact your values and your identity? What will happen if this conversation does not take place? By clarifying what is at stake, you will be able to step back and reflect on the importance of this conversation, which will in turn increase your motivation.

Tip #2 : Remind yourself of previous experiences of courageous conversations with positive outcome, at work or in your personal life.
We all have memories of difficult conversations which turned out to have a very positive impact. It could be this subordinate we had to fire, who went on to find her true calling and is now fully happy and effective in her new role. Or this difficult break up with a boyfriend before you met Mr Right. Whatever the topic, try to remind yourself that you were brave enough to have the conversation, and that it had a positive impact overall.

Tip #3 : Genuinely try to put yourself into the other person’s shoes
When you prepare the conversation, try to honestly consider the situation from the other person’s perspective. This is usually not easy, but if it is done well, it can really help. What is his/her view on the topic? Are you doing the person a favour by sharing your concern? How can you present the facts in a way which will make it easier for him or her to listen to you?

Tip #4 : Find the appropriate place and time
This might sound obvious, but is not. Tough feedback should not be given in public, when the person is humiliated and no constructive discussion can happen. It usually destroys the relationship. Show respect to the person by booking a slot in your agenda and having a proper face-to-face discussion in a closed office, without interruption.

Tip #5 : Prepare and rehearse the opening of the conversation
Here is a great tip coming from the Nonviolent communication (Marshall Rosenberg) to make an assertive request: follow the OFNR model
Observation: this is what I have observed (be as factual as possible, do not include any judgment of the person)
Feeling (Sentiment): this is how I feel as a result of this.
Need (Besoin): what I need or value which causes this feeling is…
Request (Demande): I would like to discuss with you how we can solve this issue together.
For example, if you go to your boss to ask for a promotion, you might say something like this: “This year I have overachieved all my objectives (O). This makes me very proud, and at the same time I feel I could contribute even more (F), because being challenged is very important to me (N). Therefore I would like to discuss with you the options and timings for having bigger responsibilities (R);

Tip #6: Be open and flexible when searching for a win/win solution in the conversation
You might have an easy solution in mind when you prepare the conversation, but in general it will help if you don’t bring it up at the beginning and let it emerge from your discussion.  This will ensure a greater commitment from both parties.

Tip #7: Align your non-verbal messages with the verbal ones
You want to convey empathy, openness and assertiveness. When non-verbal cues are not aligned with the words, most people pick up the non-verbal messages first. Being assertive is neither being aggressive, nor being passive. Be clear and direct when formulating your request, look at the person in the eyes, avoid crossing your arms. If it helps, rehearse and ask feedback from a 3rd party.

Tip #8 : if the conversation did not bring the expected outcome, you might want to try again later…
Not getting your salary raise or your promotion might not be a failure: you will feel proud to have had the courage to speak up, and your boss will keep your request in mind, which will give you a better chance next time!

No comments:

Post a Comment