Facilitating Tough Conversations
So we got through, just to do a quick recap, you give the context of the situation, you give the pattern, at least two, what's the impact, and then your intention, after that, we hand it over. Now, I said earlier, what we do when we hand it over, we ask a question, and we want it to be open-ended, 'cause we want them to contribute. What is the question about? What is the focus of the question? Do you remember? What was it? What do we want, think about what do we want to know, don't think about the question, what do we want to find out from this person? How do we want to direct their response? Cool, so we talked about it earlier and it's already, pfft, out of our heads, that's totally normal, okay, I just wanted to check with you on that. So, the key here is to anchor to, you want to find out their perspective. You want to listen to their reasons, okay. You got to find out what's going on from their perspective, and you want to be curious. You really want to like ask and then listen, no...
t just like ask and be thinking about what you're gonna say, and, maybe most importantly, peel back the layers. Someone might have three reasons why it's happening. The first two are smoke screen and the last one is the real one. I used to be really bad at managing up, and the reason was, 'cause I was afraid of my leaders. I was afraid of anyone in authority position. I was like, (hissing sound). So, basically I was avoiding them, like they were like the police right, and I was like ah get a away from these people, and I didn't want to tell them that. It was hard to share that I'm afraid of you, or I make you in to this monstrous type figure, nothing to do with them, but it took me giving two or three reasons before I gave that one eventually, and that was the real thing I had to work on. So you're gonna have to potentially mind people and they give you one reason, don't just jump and solve that reason. The idea is, you want to ask cool, so I'm hearing this is the reason, is that correct? And they may say, yeah, and go great, you know, what else might be getting in the way, or might be causing this in addition? So you're just putting that to the side for a second before you try to solve, and say what else might be there, and you're just feeling into it. Sometimes, it's only one reason, if it's simple. Sometimes, there's multiple reasons, so you gotta use your intuition but always, even if you're pretty sure it's just that one, at least ask and create the space, it'll save you time on the backend. Now, that's the basic around asking a question. Just get out the info, get it on the table. (clears throat) Now, sometimes we're gonna deal with challenging responses. As you hand over the mic, people might be in tears, they might be mad, they might be shut down, okay, so if that happens, one, you don't have to be an expert, you're not a trained therapist, it's okay, there's some simple skills we can use for most situations, except for the most extreme, which we're not gonna cover. For the most part, naming its gonna help. So it might look like, hey it seems like you're having a pretty strong reaction over there, can you tell me what's going on in your experience right now? Or, you might, so that's naming it, or you might make a presumptive statement. So you seem to be feeling really upset right now, what's going on? And they might say, I'm not feeling upset, I'm mad, or I'm not feeling upset, I'm sad, or I'm scared. So don't be attached to your presumptive empathetic statement, so you, but it can start, give them something to react to, right. You're calling it out, you're making a guess, they can correct you, and don't try to like win, just okay cool, so you're feeling sad, tell me about that, what's going on, right, and you can also switch it up. Maybe you get up and go get a tissue for them. Maybe you go get them a glass of water. Maybe you take a walk. Maybe you come back in five minutes. The key here though, is if you are gonna like defer or switch it up, don't let it drag, don't let them manipulate you with their emotions. Not that they would want to do that, but they might be doing that subconsciously. So if you're gonna postpone, say hey, let's pick this up again, don't postpone it to next week, postpone it to like later that day, or the next day, no more than like 24 hours, right, because we don't want to let them out of it, or ourselves out of it. It'd be pretty tempting sometimes to be like, eww that was ugly, let's do that two weeks from now. Future Cory has to deal with this, not current Cory, that's great. Current Cory loves future Cory, you know, but don't allow yourself to do that. The biggest thing is just, if someone's like shut down, say hey, it seems like you're really like kinda locked down, and I want to stay in communication, what's happening right, things like that, and I want you to take a moment and write down, what is the hardest thing for you to deal with. What's the hardest response for you to deal with that you've experienced in life? It could be not in a professional setting, it could be in a personal setting. Is it someone who rages on you, or is it someone who shuts down? Is it someone who's tears are hard for you? What is the hardest for you? Mm-hmm.
I think someone who's angry, and then tries to push me to a corner. I think that's hard, because, it's like, okay, I don't know what to say and how to calm this person down, and, yeah, I think that's a tough situation for me.
(mumbles) the anger of someone is challenging 'cause it's kind of a bullying energy.
Not on purpose necessarily.
But it's really aggressive.
Right, it's compressive.
So one way to do is let your energy not be, don't let that in, keeping your energy outside, kind of like your boundary. Naming it's gonna be really important. Even letting them know how it's making you feel, right the impact, and than when people realize that their anger is having an impact, their like oh God, I don't want that, right. And maybe tell them what you'd like. So it's like, here's what's happening and here's what I'd like us to be able to communicate in, right, and then we give them some time to transition to that, don't make 'em do it immediately in that very second. Those are a couple of things to do, but for all of us to reflect on what are the hard things for us, another good way is to talk to other people that successfully give feedback, that are in our peer set. Go hey, I really having trouble doing this, how do you deal with it, right. Learn from other people who are great at feedback. You don't have to figure it all out yourself. Cool, so let's talk a little bit about the exploratory conversation. Does someone have, willing to work with their concept? Their feedback area that we outlined. Is someone willing to let us play with it? All right, yes! You're so great! If you make eye contact with the instructor too long, you get in trouble, so, apologies. Great, I know it can be kind of scary when we're talking about feedback. Would you mind, so what I'm gonna have you do is, would you like to play the Manager trying to figure out what the reasons are, or would you like to play the person getting the feedback, giving me the reasons?
I'll give you the reasons.
Perfect, so what I want you to do is think about, and I want you right now to write down, quickly, three reasons it could be happening. Maybe two that are a little bit more surfaced and one that's more real. If you can only think of two reasons, that's fine too.
Just a couple reasons they might be doing this.
Okay, got 'em?
So give me what's the context, and give me sort of the opening that I can start role playing as the Manager. What's the situation?
So, I can't seem to make it to work on time on a regular basis.
Great, so, you know, I'm here to talk to you about getting to work on time, and you know, it happened today, we were thirty minutes late to the all hands meeting, and it also happened last week on Friday, or two hours late for work and I didn't hear from you. The impact of that is that I don't know where you are, so I get concerned. We also have some work or projects that are relying on you where people can't get ahold of you, and we can't make the progress we need, and also we're kind of missing some of the key information that is structured for you to receive in those times, if you're late, you can't get it, and so it's having an impact in all of those areas. You know, my intention is, you're doing a really good job here, overall, but the lateness is getting in the way of people perceiving you as great as you actually are, so I really want to support you in getting to where you can be, and I think where you want to be, and where I think you're worthy of being. So with that all in mind, I want to find out from you what do you think, what's happening from your perspective?
I'm sharing a car with someone right now, and so sometimes, I can't make it, if we didn't look at the schedules appropriately, and so I have to Uber in or I have to take public transportation, so I don't always have the right means to get to work.
So it sounds like you are sharing a car, and so your transportation feels dependent on others to get in, okay, is that right?
Yeah. So okay, just putting that aside for a second, we'll come back to that, is there anything else that might be contributing to why, this sort of being on time or not being able to be on time?
I feel like in the time that I'm there, I get the same amount of work done whether or not I show up on time or not.
Okay, so you feel like you don't need to be in the office as often as I'm asking you to be to get the job done that you need to get done.
Is that right?
Okay. So assuming we could figure that out, I don't know if we can, but saying that we could, is there anything else that might be a reason why?
I feel like I don't really want to be there with the people who I work with. Like I don't mesh well with them, so I'm not enthusiastic to go in to work.
Wow, yeah and I can see, it feels like your energy even really changed there, when talking about like, it doesn't feel good to be in the office for you right now. Boom, okay, great job, a little round of applause for the participation, yes. (audience applauding) And you did a great job, you kind of picked like the two little more surface ones and we like got to that bedrock one right? So now, that's a whole jumping off point. Now I know, your not getting along with your co-workers. So we got to figure out what's going on there, right? Wow that's a pretty big deal, and this might be, is this person normally pretty high performing, or is it, are they more--
Relatively, okay. Well it depends on what their at, but point being, now we can start working with that. We will deal with the transportation excuse, and we will deal with how much time you need to be in the office, but we think the real driver here is probably their just not motivated 'cause it doesn't feel good, right. So that really is the exploratory, right, now we're just getting it all on the table. So it doesn't have to be perfect. You're just asking questions, and you noticed, what's one skill I used to make sure that we were on the same page and understood each other?
You repeated it.
Yeah you repeated it.
We call that bottom lining. I was bottom lining the key nugget she was saying to make sure I understood properly, right. Is that something you've heard in like active listening courses, or someone's ever taught you? It's such an important skill. It's so simple, but to know when to do it, especially when there's a critical conversation happening. I don't want to miss what she's saying, and the point being, if I miss, she'll correct me, but only if I try to get it right. So if I feed it back to her, here's the bottom line of what I heard, and I missed something, she'll be, no it's actually this. Great, now we're clear. If not, than I can move on knowing I got it, okay, got a bedrock thing. Very critical skill. Okay, so we have the reasons now, so the next step is, let's do something about it. That's the whole point of all this right? We want to change what's going on. So we want to co-explore solutions. The key here is not to prescribe, okay. Like if I was prescribing, I'd be like, uhm Deanne, you know what you could do, you and your teammates could go to Dave and Busters, and play some arcade games, and have some drinks. I think that would be fantastic for having a better feeling in the office. Like, how do I have any idea if that's gonna be, at this point, a good solution or not? I don't know anything yet, right? Let them go first, so we can see kind of what are they thinking is gonna be the way to solve it. Now, they might get the specifics way wrong, but the ball park might be right. Cool, you know, let's focus on building more trust. What about this for building trust versus what you said? Right, (clears throat), okay, think about pattern interruption and replacement. We want to get real specific. If we know now that she's afraid of going in to the office or not wanting to connect with her co-workers, dig in on what the pattern is. What happens? How does she feel? How does she than respond? Right, that whole pattern, tryto get zoomed in on that and very specific. Get clear on the pattern, and then think about replacing that pattern. Co-designing and replacement. You can't just interrupt a pattern, you have to replace the pattern with something new, and then they have to practice it over time, and for you, when it comes to co-exploring solutions, your main job is to be an editor. Let them generate, and let you, you know, refine, challenge, suggest, but think of them as the author of their own solution, 'cause guarantee you something, no one will change because of you. I've coached so many people, and I'll give the same coaching almost to two people that have a very similar issue. One person takes it and transforms their experience, and the other one doesn't. Is it because in one sense I was a good coach, and I was a bad coach in the other? Not really. Feedback is an opportunity for someone to change, but they have to change, okay. So take this sort of like, ego or control mentality out of it, you know. Unfortunately, some people won't change, and some people will end up getting let go sometimes. That's the extreme version of someone not taking on the responsibility to change, right? Or maybe they get demoted, or taken off one team and put on another. All you can do is do the right behaviors, give them the opportunity to change, support them as best as possible, keep giving the feedback, get in their face, but they have to own it. You can try different ways, but I just want to make that clear. You gotta change that responsibility perspective on yourself. Okay, so Deanne, will you keep playing with me?
Okay, great. Thank you. So I want to, as best as you can, it doesn't have to be perfect, I'm gonna just basically now, I've gotten the reasons and said great, let's start with, you had three reasons you said, right, one was, you don't control your transportation all the time, the second one was, I can get my job done in less time than you're asking me to be there, and the last one you said was, I don't really want to be in the office, it doesn't feel good to be in there with my co-workers. So let's focus on that last one first. What do you think we could do to help the situation or to improve the situation?
I should probably spend some time getting to know my co-workers and peers, maybe on a more personal level. I don't know much about them, I just know that we only talk about selling and product.
Okay, so your idea is to get to know them more on a personal level, 'cause you feel like you're not that connected to them right now.
Not at all.
Okay, not at all. Well, cool, I think that's gonna be like a really important place to look. What do you think, what would that look like? What would be a good way for you that would be comfortable for you and help you really succeed at that in order to get connected to your co-workers?
Maybe if I could spend some time with them off of the floor, 'cause when we're on the floor, it has to be all about business, and I'm sure my boss wouldn't want us to be doing anything personal on the selling floor. So maybe some extra time, or maybe we share a 15 minute break together, just to find some common ground.
Yeah, off the floor. Is there a certain place that's really most comfortable for you, where you really can like feel in your element and shine, that's, you know, off the floor, in your life?
Anywhere where there's coffee (laughing).
Yeah, awesome. So great, thank you for playing. So as you can see when you're coacing, you're editing, you're helping the person get clearer, and clearer, and clearer, on an action or a set of actions that they can commit themselves to, and you could help them be accountable for. You're taking away the work from them having to go figure it out outside. You're bringing that work into the room and supporting them through that conversation. That's being a coach. It sometimes doesn't look like much. I'm just asking very simple questions, but what I'm listening for, my intuition is saying, we're not exactly clear yet on what's gonna work, and what you're looking for is, does it sound like to you that that would work? Is there any red flags go up or your BS detector go off? If it does, you might need to challenge them or offer a suggestion. If not, cool, let them ride with it. I don't know, I don't know what you would be like in a coffee shop, but it sounds like you really love coffee, so inviting people to go, maybe there's like a hipster coffee shop, that you'd be like, come check out this coffee shop, they have the coolest, they do that Japanese drip that goes in the big vat at the top and drips down to the bottom, it's the best cold brew ever, you know, and that's gonna really help you shine 'cause you're a coffee geek in that way. The key is to catch yourself before you go into solving it for them, and when you gotta suggest something, suggest and then check. If you're gonna suggest something, so you'd be like, okay, and she's like, I don't know, maybe somewhere off the floor, and I go where off the floor, and she's like, you know, I don't really know, and I'd say well maybe there's someplace close to the office that is somewhere fun for you, like maybe going and doing something active, like maybe taking a run near the office, would be good, what do you think about that? Right, and you check it, what do you think about that? And than you can gage, she's like well, running, and you can go, I can tell, maybe it's not running, what else would be better than running, right? Or they go, ooh, yeah running, I'm actually more of a yogi but active is really good. Good, now we're gonna go down the active route. Or their like, exercise, eww, I want to go to like get a really classy cocktail or something like that, right. So sometimes just by suggesting something, you give someone something to react to. You've probably had this experience when someone goes, what do you want for dinner? And you go, I don't know, but someone says, do you want Chinese, and you're like nah. Like, do you want Thai food, nah, and their like, do you want burgers, uh huh. You're playing that game sometimes with these suggestive statements or as a coach, and you're always listening right, it's not about you having the right idea, it's helping both of you get to the right solution.