Everyone dreads difficult conversations, it’s only human. Whether we need to deliver unpleasant news or discuss a sensitive subject it’s never easy, even if you’re experienced at dealing with challenging or difficult situations.
It’s important that we learn to cope however and react in an appropriate manner, as well as providing support to others if necessary.
Dealing with life’s difficult conversations, such as the death of a loved one, can be particularly stressful especially with colleagues. However, these top tips will help you to manage such a situation with ease.
Compassion is important
As a manager, it’s important that you show compassion towards your staff. If they’re having a particularly difficult time, try to reassure them and support them. If they are dealing with the death of a loved one, ensure you have a solid understanding of the bereavement process and offer support to help them through.
If you find that they’re struggling to cope, suggest they seek help from experts such as the team at Beyond. This will help to relieve some pressure on yourself and provide guidance on those trickier areas, such as finding a funeral director and settling the estate. Having expert help to hand, that you can offer and suggest, ensures your staff feel supported and cared for in trying times.
Give them space to open up
When it comes to discussing a recent death in their family, let them lead the way. Start by asking them to describe how they’re feeling and then encourage them to tell you what they need from you as a colleague or a manager.
Don’t focus on work, discuss the situation as you would with a friend. If they need time away from work, try to accommodate this as best you can to ensure they have time to grieve before returning.
Learning is vital but so is reflection
Learning from every difficult conversation you have is important to successfully cope with tough situations. You may have to deal with your colleague’s emotions and console them. However, reflecting on how the conversation went will enable you to develop as a manager and better understand your employees.
It’s also important to reflect. Look back on these types of conversation and understand why they went well, or perhaps, why they didn’t. This will help you to understand how to more effectively communicate during challenging discussions. Nobody is perfect, but you will feel much more confident for the next time you’re faced with a difficult conversation.
Choose the right environment
Any one-to-one conversation with an employee should be handled with the utmost professionalism and confidentiality. If you’re aware that your employee needs to discuss a difficult subject with you, then provide them with an environment where they feel safe enough to open up and talk.
This definitely doesn’t mean in the middle of the office in front of other staff. Book a meeting room or head to a quiet area with minimal distraction or noise. Privacy is important, particularly if they could be upset.
Help your colleague overcome this type of tough situation by following these steps when handling the initial conversation. Give them space, let them talk and allow them time to grieve and arrange their loved one’s personal effects before returning to work.