If you’re running a business with a small (or mighty) crew it’ll come as no surprise that a big part of your day is now taken up by managing people – hooray?!
You’ve probably been pulled away from the fun creative stuff that got you excited in the first place, and now you’re spending your precious time telling people what to do, keeping them in line, giving them pep talks, and sometimes even playing therapist.
Let’s face it, most business owners didn’t go to business school, so this whole people management thing can be pretty scary and overwhelming.
Especially right now.
With the economy taking a hit and everyone feeling the post-pandemic burnout, business owners are having to have tough talks way more often.
These convos aren’t easy, but they’re crucial.
Left undone they can foster resentment, unhappiness and anger.
On the flip side, performed with grace, they can be transformational for both you and your team.
So, I wanted to share the framework I use when I’m gearing up for one of these intense conversations. Its foundation is based in the Crucial Conversations model, and I’ve added my own steps to help you approach things with more openness, grace, and personal accountability.
Alrighty, here goes…
A Simple Framework for Difficult Conversations:
- Step 1: Start with Heart. When you’re gearing up for a tough chat, firstly remember that the other person is just like you. They’ve got fears, values, hopes, and dreams. So lead with empathy and treat them like a fellow human being.
- Step 2: Make it Safe. The other person might be feeling pretty peeved or embarrassed going into the convo, so it’s key to create a neutral space where you both feel safe.
- Step 3: Listen for the Whole Story. This one’s a biggie. Instead of interrupting or trying to fix things right away, just let the other person talk. Hear them out, even if it takes a while. The more they talk the calmer they’ll become and the easier it will be to move forward.
- Step 4: Share Your Experience. This one’s all about you. Talk about what went down from your perspective, and how it impacted you and the business. Keep it real and honest, but stick to your own experience of the situation.
- Step 5: Ask for the Path. Time to get the other person in proactively finding solutions. Ask them, “What do you think we should do now?” This gets the ball rolling in figuring out what the heck to do next.
- Step 6: Clarify the Path. Once they’ve given you some ideas, take a moment to make sure you’re on the same page. Double-check any details or hidden meanings to make sure you’re totally clear.
- Step 7: Move to Action. Boom, now it’s time to make moves. This might mean changing something up ASAP, or taking some time to think about it and scheduling a follow-up convo. Either way, make sure you’ve got a concrete plan of action to move forward with.
If you’ve got some challenging conversations ahead I hope this helps.
Honestly, being able to handle tough convos is a critical tool in the business owner’s tool kit. These conversations build trust, openness, and top-notch teamwork. And here’s the kicker: they can really shake things up (in a good way!) for you, your crew, and your whole dang business.
The key takeaway is to allow empathy, honesty, and openness to cradle the conversation. That’s how you create a solid, safe space where anything and everything can be worked through.