Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Small Changes in Words = Big Impact

This is the second part of the words matter message. Words are a part of how we are perceived. Making some small changes in word selection may make big changes in your impact, and therefore, your results, including the following:

Friday, April 15, 2016

Delivering Difficult News Directly & Delicately

"A fellow doesn't last long on what he has done. He has to keep on delivering."
~ Mark Twain
Carl Owen Hubbell, nicknamed "The Meal Ticket" and "King Carl", was an American baseball player. He was a member of the New York Giants in the National League from 1928 to 1943.
(1903 - 1988)

Very few of us are comfortable delivering difficult news. And, even fewer of us want to be good at it! Still, there is difficult news to be delivered at times, and handling that well...directly and delicately, is what is best for everyone involved.

When you are the one in the position of knowing about difficult news, it can be tempting to avoid it, ignore it, or hope someone else informs others. Or, alternatively, our "fight or flight" instincts may lead us to blurt the news, or broadcast it in a way that "gets it off our chest", so to speak.

Instead of either of those approaches, please consider the following to deliver difficult news in an appropriate, timely, compassionate way:
1) Remember, the news is difficult for you because it will be difficult for the person receiving the news. This is really about the other person first, and you second. While you absolutely matter, getting out of your way, and putting the other person front and center in your thoughts and words will work best.
2) Having shared that, even though it is about that other person or people, it is okay for you to feel down, concerned, or uncomfortable!
3) Schedule time, in private, when possible, rather than blindside the person/people. When something unexpected happens, and you cannot schedule private time, minimally move to a private area.
4) When beginning, use the person's name, say something that states it may be difficult to hear, that it is important, and that you care about the person.
5) State things factually.
6) Ask if what you shared was clear.
7) Offer a change of topic and/or exit.

Bringing it together, it would play out similarly to this:
 "Todd, what I am about to say my be difficult to hear, and it is still important it is shared. Please know I appreciate you, so I am going to be direct with you. Your performance on the board has not met expectations. You and I discussed this at the New Year. You had an opportunity to make improvements, and they have, unfortunately, not happened . Surely you want to be successful. I believe your intent is to contribute. Since neither is happening in this situation, wouldn't you agree that it is best you step down?" After a response, thank him for his professionalism, if he agrees, and let him know he is relieved from the role, should he not agree. Either way, thank him for his time and interest, and then stand up to exit the conversation.

Things like this are not anything to look forward to delivering, and yet, if it is a break-up, a death in the family, a hygiene situation, inappropriate behavior, poor work performance, or other things to address, directness and delicacy is imperative to leaving yourself and the other person/people feeling as good as possible in the midst of what is occurring.