business communication, employee performance evaluation, employee training, hr best practices, Human Resources Training, Training & Development, workplace safety

Talking tough to colleagues

Many managers are faced with this situation. They are called upon to deliver a rather unpleasant or harsh message to a colleague, which is something that has to be done, whether the manager likes it or not. How does one conduct oneself during such occasions?

Substance vs. style

Each manager has his own style of communication. And of course, this is quite different from the command of the language. Having a rich vocabulary helps, but only as a supplement. It can never replace the talent of effective communication, which is about conveying exactly what has to be conveyed. Making the conversation flowery can dilute the impact at times, reducing the effectiveness.

Two approaches

Coming back to the ways in which a manager has to talk tough with colleagues is concerned; there are two approaches. One is to come to the point straightaway, and the other is to hover around, making references to some unrelated matters and then coming to the unpleasant part of the conversation. The approach the manager takes is entirely a matter of his or her style of functioning, really. There is no one rule on this. Perhaps the only determinants of which approach to take are the gravity of the message to be conveyed and the importance of the person to whom it is being conveyed, in the organization.

Depends on the situation

It is important, however, that no matter which of these styles a manager adapts depending on the circumstance, what has to be conveyed has to be conveyed. For example, if a senior employee has to be terminated, the manager can convey his personal dislike, but state the inevitability and unavoidability of the action. For messages of lesser intensity, such as punishment, maybe the manager can single out the act and not concentrate on the person. The bottom line is that the best way to get rid of an unpleasant duty is to perform it.



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