As a “recovering” Human Resources professional, working in hotels no less, I’ve had my share of difficult conversations with both guests and employees. Conversations with employees ranged from body odor, to inappropriate dress, unprofessional behavior, rule infractions, personality conflicts, petty territorial disagreements, and you name it. While some workplace conversations can be difficult, avoiding them is not recommended. First, we’ll look at the consequences avoiding difficult conversations can bring and then look at the essential steps for handling them.
Some people think that because an individual holds a managerial position that he or she automatically understands how to handle difficult conversations. Further, while managers may think they are confident and competent at holding difficult conversations, Human Resources (HR) holds a different opinion as indicated in the graph below.
Well certainly a CEO knows how to chew these conversations up and spit them out. The fact is, that most of us don’t enjoy holding these conversations and many of us are not that skilled at having them. In fact, according to a study appearing in a Sage Publication, these conversations can be unnerving and emotionally draining. So, as human nature dictates, we avoid the unpleasant and the awkward. Failing to hold training sessions for difficult conversations is only asking for trouble.