Note: This post is one of a bunch I will be publishing throughout the weeks. These posts will reveal personal, social, and professional rules and practices I follow to help keep me productive, creative, and happy. Some of the rules or practices may not apply to you, but I thought I would share to see if they can be of use to people.
If you have a real problem with the way someone does things, a problem you can’t just ignore, and you want the person to change or modify his or her behavior, use this simple formula:
- Agree. Show that person that you understand his side.
- Question. Express concerns with open questions.
- Listen. Try to understand the person’s own problems and concerns.
- Collaborate. Work with him towards finding a good solution.
Example: You’re a manager and one of your employees, Tina, does a good job in general, but keeps missing important deadlines. You know you have to address this problem. You can tell her directly to improve her deadlines. Or you can take the more tactful approach, and follow the three steps above:
“Hey Tina. First thing I want to say is that I think you’re doing a great job here. I understand that your job here is not easy and you’re doing the best you can [Agree]. Still, I am a little concerned about the missed deadlines. I know you take your work seriously. What can I do to help you?” [Question]
“Well, the problem I keep facing is that I have to rely on Eric for a lot of the data to be sent out, but he always seems to be busy with other work and I don’t want to keep harassing him all the time.” [Listen]
“Okay. Well why don’t we talk with Eric and see if we can come up with a system where he can get you the data you need more quickly?” [Collaborate]
In doing this, your problem with Tina becomes Tina’s problem, and you are in control of helping her with the change.