Have you ever noticed that it's easy to hear devastating news about someone and then think "That's too bad. I wonder what's for lunch?" Unless you are the someone in distress, your brain can have a hard time feeling empathetic, meaning to put yourself in someone else's shoes.
The same thing happens at work. Picture the last time an employee complained about something that was of zero consequence to you. Perhaps the person even got emotional while you were wondering “What is this even about?”
It can be difficult for managers to muster sympathy for someone else. But, part of being a “good” people manager is to be able to offer words of compassion and defer your opinions for another time.
If you are apathetic to your employee in their time of need, your lack of sympathy can be misinterpreted as disdain, judgement or disrespect. Employees could feel it’s not safe to be honest with you unless you share their feelings. At worst, you could earn a reputation of being unsupportive no matter how many team-building activities you might organize.
The test of a “good” manager is how they handle the tough conversations. Here are three pre-written compassionate responses to help you get through those unforeseen emotional discussions. Do your staff a favour - learn them and use them.
Thank you for telling me that. It must not have been easy for you to express those feelings.
Let me sit with what you have told me. I want to get back to you with a thoughtful response. Let's pick a time to meet again. How is....
I’m sorry you feel that way that must not be easy for you. Let’s talk about what you (or we) can do to prevent this in the future.
Janet is a speaker at CPHR Alberta’s 2018 Conference: HR Undefined
The Session: The ‘Gut Check Policy’: How to Step Off the Conversation Rollercoaster. Learn more.
For some managers, talking with an employee is like riding a rollercoaster. It’s unpredictable, there are sharp turns and it’s a relief when it’s over. Surely there’s a less stressful and more successful way for leaders to connect with staff?
Let’s inject more authenticity into manager-employee communications by engaging participants in the development of a mental clean desk strategy, known as the ‘gut check policy.’ This groundbreaking technique relieves some of the pressure to talk by replacing forced conversations with genuine engagement.
In this session, you will learn the following tips that professional communicators use to help you as an HR leader:
Discuss when to have a conversation vs. give a verbal report card
Feel comfortable following a script, answering awkward questions and saying no with greater ease
Gain insight into the psychology of why employees are wired to need ongoing feedback
Review case studies of how a ‘gut check policy’ reduced tension and boosted performance
Grounded in evidence-based neuroscience, HR Managers will learn new, practical takeaways to help their managers have more effective Conversations At Work
Janet Hueglin Hartwick inspires professionals to become confident and effective communicators. She is the founder of Conversations At Work, a first of its kind communications training program that boosts mental fitness and resilience.
Over the course of her career, Janet has motivated leaders in many sectors, from the public service to municipal government and from agriculture organizations to trade associations. Most notably, she uses advanced communications techniques to help professionals lead today’s emotionally engaged workforce.
Janet is also the President of Soilleirich Communications Group, a consultancy that specializes in corporate and employee communications. Her work has been recognized with 12 national awards in the areas of corporate communications, advertising and government relations.