summer I had grub worms in my yard. Never really knew what grub worms were
until now. So, when a small corner of my front yard turned brown, I thought
a neighborís dog had syringed my yard. Then I went away for a business
trip for a week, and when I came home the spot was bigger. I made a note to
do something about it but of course forgot, and the next time I noticed the
yard on the side of my house was dead -- not dying, dead. Turns out it was
the work of grub worms. Luckily, I bought some grub worm control stuff and
that was the end of them.
grub worms -- those problems that simmer just below the surface and arenít
talked about until they eventually boil over into a much bigger, unnecessary
problem -- can be a bit trickier to deal with.
the Work Grub Worms
might not believe it, but there could be grub worms lurking in your
organization right now. You might even be spreading grub worms yourself
without even knowing it! Grub worm spreaders in organizations are those
people who smile at meetings, and then rip you apart behind closed doors.
They usually do it with a smile, and it all seems so polite. Before you know
it, issues you didnít even know were being discussed are the reason why
you arenít getting the opportunities you used to get.
than ignoring the grub worms in your organization or just making a note to
address them, I encourage you to get busy and eliminate them before your
"career yard" is dead and you have to put down massive amounts of
grub control to get the issues resolved.
itís at work or home, there arenít many things in life more thorny than
having a difficult conversation. These are the conversations where you have
to discuss an issue with someone you live with or work with that neither of
you really want to discuss. But, if you donít deal with them, you could
end up with a much more serious problem on your hands.
with Avoiding Difficult Conversations
issues fester, and you grow more frustrated.
youíre not discussing actually becomes bigger and
inevitably worse than the actual issue.
lack of trust builds up between you and the other person, and that
lack of trust spreads to other people, especially if one of the
participants is talking about the issue with other people.
of Having Difficult Conversations
get to clear the air between the two of you.
uncover what the other personís perspective really is.
have a chance to build a stronger relationship in the future.
likely, this conversation isnít going to be easy. So here are a few tips
to help guide you through a potentially difficult encounter to a successful
Genuine Caring and Respect
face canít fake what your mind is thinking and your heart is feeling. If
you donít respect the other person and you donít care about him or her,
then donít try to have a difficult conversation. It will only make things
worse. So, before you decide to approach this person to have a conversation,
youíll have to identify in your mind why you care about this person and
why you respect him or her enough to be truly honest during your discussion.
the midst of a crisis is not the time to have a difficult conversation, even
if you had a scheduled meeting with the person. Be sensitive to the factors
swirling around the potential conversation. If the person is clearly worn
out, then reschedule for a better time.
have a difficult conversation in front of other people. Go to a private
space where the two of you can talk without anyone seeing your facial
expressions or overhearing your comments.
of tact is a game killer in these situations -- for both individuals. If the
person shares how he or she felt, and you say, "Youíre being too
sensitive," youíve just ruined the moment. Donít tell people they
are "too anything" -- thatís your opinion, not a fact. Stick to
facts or theyíre bound to get upset.
Honesty Based on Observed Behaviors
that youíve properly prepared yourself for the conversation, youíre
ready to start it. Take this approach: say, "This is what I saw happen,
and this is what I felt. I saw ___, and consequently I felt ____. What are
your thoughts on that situation?" Or if you didnít see it, but
youíve heard what happened several times, you could say, "I did not
see you say this. However, several people have now relayed these comments to
me. So rather than wondering whether theyíre true or not, I just want to
talk with you about the situation. Is that what you said?"
then listen. Moreover, make sure your words and your non-verbals demonstrate
that you really are listening.
the person says it is correct, then you could say, "Ok, based on those
comments, this is how I felt. What are your thoughts?" Now youíve
initiated the difficult conversation, and the two of you can begin to work
toward resolving the underlying issues. Notice how this approach is far more
effective than letting the situation grow larger and larger in your mind.
the temptation to talk in vague terms. Instead, be very clear about what you
saw or what youíve heard, and how it made you feel. Thatís it. Donít
tell the other person he or she is wrong. Simply state your point of view,
and then let the other person respond.
want an opportunity to have a relaxed, candid, and open conversation, not a
rushed, in-your-face-and-out-the-door conversation. Establish a large enough
time frame for your conversation so you can get your ideas on the table and
the other person can get his or her ideas and feelings on the table. And
then build in a little extra time so you two can wind down the conversation
in a relaxed mode. Rushing these conversations can ruin not only your day,
but also the day of the other person and the day of all the people you two
will interact with.
Openness to Response
you open up and let another person know about a situation that bothered you,
be genuinely open to listening while the other person shares a situation
that bothered him or her. Donít become defensive. Simply listen to what
the other person has to say, and consider it. Donít run off and talk about
it with other people. Just consider it.
the end of the difficult conversation, schedule a time to meet with the
person again within two weeks to discuss the issues once more. Having one
difficult conversation is not going to resolve the issue, or the feelings
you both have. Get together again and discuss how you both feel now.
Guaranteed, after youíve both had time to think it over, it wonít be
nearly as difficult as the first conversation.