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Have That Difficult Conversation Vs. Being a Dump Truck

Have you ever piled up so many issues about one employee that you end up dumping on them in one conversation? “You did this back in January, then this in the last week of February, then this the first week of March…then last week....” have so many things piled up that you choose to ignore the issues and the employee and hope they’ll quit.

We hear this from all of our clients, so you're not alone. Here are some practical tips that can help you right away. Please share with others inside and outside your organization:

  1. Change your mindset from a Difficult Conversation to a Redirecting Conversation. Provide specific feedback about their behavior as a form of redirection vs. criticism.

  2. Have the conversation soon after the issue happens. If you’re upset or not prepared, then wait a day, but schedule time within 24 hours of the behavior you witness.

  3. Prepare for the conversation. Don’t just walk in without a plan. Write down the specific behaviors you want to discuss and and prepare a good opening statement. (We have great worksheets from our courses that help you prepare.)

  4. Ask good open-ended questions that don’t put them on the defensive. Try “What’s going on for you?” Instead of “What’s your problem?” Great advice from Stacey Engle noted below.

  5. Let them know they’re valued. Use the conversation as an opportunity to enrich the relationship by letting them know how much you care about their success.

We challenge you to have at least one Redirecting Conversation within the next 4 days with one employee. Let us know how it goes!

This week’s blog was prompted by Stacey Engle from Fierce Inc. during her conversation with Pete Mockaitis at How to Be Awesome at Your Job. Listen to the podcast during your commute or workout; it's 42 minutes long.


Ready to strengthen your culture, your team and your leaders? We're now providing DiSC assessments as a valuable team building tool. Call Margie Adams at 303-809-8093 or email

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