Mistakes Managers Make During Tough Conversations

Addressing negative emotions up front is better than bottling them up.

Photo: Colourbox.com

Whether it’s delivering bad news by email or rushing through a delicate conversation, the way managers deal with (or don’t deal with) tough conversations can leave staff in the wake—and “the most stressful conversations are those where you’re sure tears or anger will ensue,” writes Lisa Evans for Fast Company. Evans outlines the top six mistakes managers make during difficult conversations and suggests ways to avoid them.

Obviously, avoiding conversations that need to happen is a bad managerial step. But organizations aren’t the greatest at addressing difficult feelings like anger and jealousy, says Daniel Goleman, bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence and Focus. Goleman suggests the best leaders are those who can get over something quickly, and help others get over something quickly, in order “to build a high bonding and cohesive state.” Negative thoughts and feelings have to be addressed up front—in other words, you should stop bottling up your anger. Goleman writes:

To reach that desired state again, it’s very critical to understand grief. Leaders do not pay enough attention to grief. Organizations deny the massive amount of disappointment, frustrations, and jealousies.

In the ongoing conversation about embracing mindfulness at work, a recent study suggests that mindful managers—those who practice mindfulness or possess high mindfulness traits or skills—make for happier, less emotionally exhausted employees. In the same vein, researcher Emma Seppälä suggests that the traditional paradigm of management—being “firm and a little distant from employees”—might not be as efficient or productive as taking a softer approach.

Even the best workplaces will inevitably contain high-tension conversations, but it’s how those negative emotions get addressed—and how quickly leaders can help teams rebound—that determines the health of the organization. A much better approach than wallowing by the water cooler, that’s for sure.