Do you dread a leading performance conversation?

Do you ever lie awake at night worrying about a conversation that needs to take place? I used to… but not anymore! Once I learned to be curious.

When I first became a supervisor, if I had to talk with an employee who wasn’t performing, I’d lay awake the night before and play worst case scenarios’ over and over again. Until I realized the approach to take was one of curiosity. As Douglas Stone reminds us in his book Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most “Difficult conversations are almost never about getting the facts right. They are about conflicting perceptions, interpretations, and values.”

Once I began asking questions instead of making statements statement the conversations began to change, and performance was improved.

Asking questions that start with the word “what” get a better response then questions that starts with the word “why”. Questions that start with “why” can put people on the defensive. For example, “why were you late”, is asking someone for an excuse. Instead ask, “what is makes it hard for you to be on time?” This question allows you to come from a place of curiosity and proceed with a problem-solving discussion.

Shift from asking why to asking what in your conversations this week. Come back and post your experience here.

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