It’s one thing to know how to communicate in a way that inspires others and brings out their best. It’s another to actually do it, especially when an employee makes a costly mistake and when your emotions are high.
Here are a few keys to making it happen:
- When you feel emotional, be suspicious of any instinctive reaction. Before saying or doing anything, pause and take a breath.
- Pose a silent question to yourself: What is the outcome you want your next move to achieve? In other words, what do you want to happen as a result of your communication? Make sure you get to a real outcome. If your answer is that you want the other person to feel bad, ask yourself why. What are you hoping will result from their feeling bad? If your hopeful response is that they will make better decisions next time, then that is the outcome you’re going for. (The feeling-bad part is how you think they will get there — but you’re wrong.)
- Decide what you will do or say that will most likely lead to your ultimate outcome. Often, what you’ll find is the conversation that holds the greatest likelihood of getting to your ultimate outcome is about the future, not the past.
If you’re a leader, and you’re dissatisfied with someone’s performance, take that breath, identify the outcome you want, and then ask them what they plan to do in the future.