Four Ways to Communicate More Effectively When Dealing With Difficult Employees
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Four Ways to Communicate More Effectively When Dealing With Difficult Employees

Talking with, not dealing with, difficult employees

Communication is an integral part of dealing with difficult employees. Good communication can cut office gossip, cut negativity, neutralize an environment, and forge crucial relationships between managers and their employees. In Susan Scott’s Fierce Conversations, Scott outlines several ways to improve conversations when dealing with difficult employees. Here are four that can be particularly helpful in handling office gossip.

    1. “Master the courage to interrogate reality.”
      The gyroscope that is our businesses these days constantly changes shapes, sizes, and directions. Our companies are changing so fast, in so many directions these days, that it is important for a manager or supervisor to take a step back and accept this reality of change, and cope with it, in order to set an example for his or her employees to cope with change. If a manager is not prepared for the fireballs thrown at him on an everyday basis, it is difficult to assume he or she would good at dealing with difficult employees. There is no longer a hierarchy of workers the way that there used to be in business. People are working closer and closer together to get things done quickly and efficiently, and that creates an atmosphere of potential conflict.
    2. “Come out from behind yourself into the conversation—make it real.”
      Remove the word “but” from your vocabulary and substitute the word “and”. This way, it seems like you are giving your employee options, listening to his or her side of the story, but simply adding your own suggestion. Remember that no single conversation is guaranteed to transform a company in relationship for a life, but any single conversation can.
    3. “Tackle your toughest challenge today.”
      Burnout doesn’t occur because we’re solving problems, burnout occurs because we’re trying to solve the same problems over and over. Obey your instincts, trust your little voice, and take responsibility for your own emotional leg.
    4. “Let silence do the heavy lifting.”
      If an employee attempts to avoid confrontation by playing dumb, claiming they don’t know what you are talking about or they were not involved in the situation in focus, try to work around their claims. “What would it be if you did know,” ask them. “What would your response be if you did know? What would you do about it if you did know?” Managers tend to do way too much talking to employees. We do a lot of talking AT people and not a good job of listening. This is not communication. Managers must work on their two-way communication skills to be prepared when dealing with difficult employees.

Edited Remarks from “Gossip, Gab and the Grapevine: How to Neutralize Its Negative Impact” by Hunter Lott

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