This article and checklist are based on many, many conversations I’ve had with my clients. Most frequently when they’ve found themselves upset or angered by a team member’s behaviour or remarks.
Recognising that we create stories about other people before we’ve had a conversation with them is so useful. It’s particularly important in teams, because there will be countless times when wires are crossed, intentions missed, and remarks misconstrued.
I hope this helps to guide you on how to construct a conversation when you feel upset.
- Remember, it’s always better to talk about it than to say nothing. You might be saying nothing, but you are thinking plenty!
- If you find yourself talking about someone to someone else – it probably means you should be having a conversation with that very person.
- Regardless how you feel, make sure you approach the chat with curiosity and kindness – don’t assume you know what is going on or what the intentions are for the other person (because you definitely don’t).
- Think of the conversation in two halves (and maybe even two conversations).
- The first half is about you understanding what is going on with the person you’re speaking to and what they intended to say – as opposed to how it landed with you.
- You already know the impact on you (and possibly others) so there’s no point in exploring that at this point. Instead, try very hard to understand what was intended.
- Were they genuinely trying to upset you?
- Were they trying to be constructive?
- Was there something else going on for them?
- It’s important that you find out what the person’s actual intentions were before delivering constructive feedback
- Then it’s time to share how it made you feel. It may not be what he/she intended (or it may be) but you are entitled to feel how you feel. It’s important they know.
- The second half of the conversation is about learning.
- What could they have done differently?
- How could they have anticipated how else it might land?
- What is the impact beyond what they said?
- What could be done to improve the process?
- If they were making a point, how could they have raised that in a different (less upsetting) way?
- Importantly, what can you learn from this?
- What will you both agree to do differently (make an agreement)
I hope this helps when you next need to have a difficult conversation with your team.