A friend of mine is the go-to person in her family whenever a problem or crisis arises. She has the ability to speak the truth and give her honest opinion and perspective about the situation—even if it means getting a few people worked up. In a recent crisis, she traveled to attend a family member’s high school graduation. While on the surface it sounds like this should have been a pleasant and exciting outing, it wasn’t the purpose of the journey. She was the referee in a family dispute and was doing everything she could to resolve the problem.
In its boiled-down state, the overarching problem was a difference of opinion. A teenager was not living up to the expectations of her parents. This teen had made a few poor decisions that adversely affected her relationship with her parents. Those decisions caused discomfort and tension between them which then led the teen to make additional bad decisions.
The teen made decisions based on immediate, and often negative, emotions without thinking about the consequences of their actions. The challenge my friend faced, a challenge often prevalent in business, was deciding what to say that would improve the situation without making it worse. People outside of the situation may have said to my friend, “Don’t worry about it! The situation will eventually fix itself.” Or, “Just take over the situation and force the teenager to do what she is supposed to do.”
For those who believe childish behavior occurs only in children, that is not the case. The staff at CMOE has worked with companies large, small, and everywhere in between for over thirty years, and we see childish behaviors on a regular basis. It manifests differently in every company, and oftentimes, more dramatically in business situations. Too many people act selfishly, greedily, and without thinking about the outcomes of their behavior, or the impact their actions will have on others.
These situations happen every day. If you ask 100 people what they think about them, you will get 100 different opinions. One remedy that we have found to be effective is to pull those involved aside and have a courageous coaching conversation with them. But having candid, courageous coaching discussion is not easy, no matter what the circumstances are. They are uncomfortable for everyone involved, and you cannot guarantee a positive outcome. Regardless, they need to happen and can be handled effectively.
Because having a courageous conversation is usually difficult and uncomfortable, we find that most people avoid having them. They fear the outcome of the conversation will not add any value to those involved, or that the conversation will hurt someone’s feelings. While this may be true in a few cases, more often it is because the initiators of the courageous coaching conversation do not have the confidence or the skills to use a courageous coaching conversation to bring about a mutually accepted resolution to the problem. However, if you to list the pros and cons of having a courageous coaching conversation before beginning the conversation, you would find that the pros always outweigh the cons, and the outcome will be better for both sides, especially over the long term.
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