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Difficult Conversations

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

How to have those difficult and challenging conversations as an employer, employee or those conversations that can get mega awks between friends and family. 

How can have a difficult conversation with someone who has been discriminatory towards you? Mo and Allegra discuss the dynamics between people from different roles and relationships and give advice about how to be open, supportive and treat everyone with equality. 

Hello welcome to very much to make surewhat a Tup we question everything you know about the world of work in aneffort to re. Imagine a better future that includes everybody, I'm your host,I'M A LAGRE CHAPMAN! I am one of the CO creators of watch this space anddiversity in inclusion consultant based down in Brighton and I'm joined by myfellow co Creator, my Candela, how you doing my hello, I'm good! How are youyeah not too bad the son's actually out for once it is, and I'm feeling likewe're out to professional at the plex podcast studio we at a propper grown up.Yeah is feeling its feeling like really professional and serious. This is I hada real feeling this week of kind of feeling like the world is sortof coming back again, because we yeah we're back in enough that you know,we've been here a plus ex today, we're actually recording in a studio, becausewhen we started this podcast we were all locked in our homes. Literallylooked out yeah, it was like look down. One couldn't leave the house when we'vestarted the podcast yeah, so all we could do was talk to people on Zoom andrecord on our laptops and now yeah. We're start in a proper studio. We'vebeen in office working together and we're missing our fellow co CreatorRachel. Who would love to be here and now I kind of don't want to talk aboutthe studio too much, because I feel like Rachel's, going to be help she'sgoing to be upset that she's missed out on this one yeah it is like it isproper will come back here with Rachel. Well Definitely C, we will come back,rightaway promise yeah, it is really nice. So if you have a podcast of yourown and you want to check out the studio plastics, I highly recommend yes, but today we are talking about havingdifficult conversations. We know that this is something that comes up a lotfor different people in different situations, because there's alsodifferent sides to this. There is the kind of trickier conversations that youhave to have to advance your career, so it might be something like negotiatinga pay rise or talking about your pay. When you first start a job, it might be asking somebody to be amentor or help you in some way with your career. Then there are thechallenging conversations that you have as an employee, so you may be, you know, ask for time off well talkabout difficulties that you're having or go through any kind of grievanceprocedures and then there's difficult conversations that you can have as anemployer. If you need to give feedback to somebody- or you know those kind ofconversations, so something that a lot of people ask us about, and it'ssomething that we talk about a lot and it's something that Ma is recentlycreated a training course about that's right, yeah, because there's also theside of it that you know in your life. You need to have challenging conversations to people. Itcould be because there's been some exclusion, ary behavior toward you oryou've, seen some exclusion, behavior or you're working in a group or withfriends. You know there are all sorts of reasons why conversations can bedifficult, or also that you feel something's been said that you need toaddress in a conversation. You need to think about how to do that and thereason yeah we created the training causes because we kept being askedabout it and because it's one of those things that really plays into whetherwe're on equal playing fields or not with people, because having a difficultconversation addressing somebody who might have been discriminatory towardsyou is a difficult and challenging situation, much more so than if you'rethe person. Who is. I don't know talking to your employee, somethinglike that. So there are different dynamics at play with theseconversations. So that's why we thought this should be a good subject to talkabout yeah. Definitely, and it's a really interesting one, because, as yousay, it does play so much into these...

...dynamics and you are more likely to be having moredifficult conversations. If you are already you down kind of on the backfort for some reason you know in terms of being under represented- or you knowfeeling like a minority in your organization, but then it's also more difficult to have thoseconversations if these barriers are in the way. So it's a sort of selfappetite cycle. These issues are bull likely to come up, but you're also morelikely to come up against restrictions on being able to havethose conversations and being held back in the way that you talk about thingsyeah and you know, the theme of our podcast is re imagination at work, andthat means imagining re imagining workplaces so that people can have openand honest conversations and feel they can address things that have happened.Difficult situations, negotiating pay rises, as you talked about. You know,feel that the culture in the environment is one way you can do thosethings, because you know there are a lot of white places that are not likethat. Where people just put up with things- and I guess eventually justleave because they're not happy and actually what we want- is work placeswhere people are happy but also feel able to challenge and question thingswhen something's gone wrong or that they need to ask something. So I thinkit's one of those things that when we imagine this future world of work, wewant people to be able to do those things and that managers can accept thefeedback and listen to it. Because a part of the conversation is yes, youprepare for having a challenging conversation with someone yourself, butit's also about how you receive feedback. When someone says somethingto you definitely, and I feel that one of the biggest issuesaround these conversations why they feel challenging and why there's somuch difficulty with them being had in an effective way is far people areafraid of preaching the subjects in the first place, they're afraid of talkingabout. Is They get very worried and hesitant about it, but also there'sfear. On the other side, the other person doesn't want to be havingconversation either, and you know doesn't know what to say and feelsnervous and uncomfortable about the whole situation. So it's just a verydifficult yeah. It is and it I think it depends a lot on how your life has beenas well. So if you've in your life, been in a family, for example, wherethings are were open and people say, if they're not happy, then I think it'seasier. So I can talk about my family. For example, it's very much like peopleget angry and then five minutes later they're, fine and talking to each otheragain, but it's better to get that subject out and don't sort of deal withit. But not everybody lives like that, and I'm kind of like that myself withfriends and things. I feel it's better to say if you're not happy aboutsomething, but a lot of people are not comfortable with that and so thenforcing people into those situations where they have to listen to thatfeedback becomes really difficult for people and that's where you see peopleget very defensive. It's where emotions come in to where you know there can besort of disagreements about, what's being said, and it's all to do withthat acceptance of feedback which is difficult for people, there's no doubtabout it and that's what makes these situations more challenging. Why do youthink that is? Why do we all struggle with feedback so much, because it is auniverse? I think everybody has has difficulties, hearing, good feedbackand bad feedback yeah, absolutely processing? What of that? So why isthat? Why we so bad at e? I don't know. Is it a cultural thing? I don't knowwhether it's just the people, I think, with good feedback. A lot of people arejust not used to it. I guess, and they don't know how to handle it. I thinkworkplaces particularly were not places traditionally with a lot of goodfeedback. I think that's changing and hat, hopefully has changed now. So Ithink maybe that's one of the reasons. The the difficulty in accepting sort ofnegative feedback or things that you need to work on, I think, is because wehave this kind of culture where you can't failanything, and actually it's fine to get things wrong, because you're only goingto learn how to do things better by taking the feedback and learning how todo things. But we really struggle with it. Yeah we're taught to see it as akind of a mispent thing. You've done this wrong, that's bad rather than a Oh.You could have done that better his you...

...know what and then treat that as alearning experience- and I think you know I've e, so I've got to youngchildren, I've been reading a lot of parenting fix and it's interestingbecause there's a lot of parenting theory around this around how youaddress quote: Unquote: Negative behavior and your children, because ifyou're constantly, you know just telling them off for doing somethingwrong, then that it only ever kind of learned to fear punishment, and I thinkthat's how a lot of our culture. You know we are raised in that environmentof, but you've done something wrong, athout bad rather than I'll. Hang on aminute. Let me show you how you know you could have done that better or youknow how you could have improved on that yeah. It's interesting! There's alot of business books that talk about the parent child. I meant dynamic atwork and how for work places to evolve. It needs to move away from that intowhere people are at Oreque or level, and so somebody might be your manager,but that doesn't mean that you're a child in that situation, because that'soften what workplace like on. I think that's why people struggle with thefeedback as well. They think they might lose their job yeah. I've donesomething wrong, it's that fear, and actually, if we have a sort of adult toadult relationships, then you can give people feed back, because also managersneed to take feedback too. Just because you're, the person leading the teamdoesn't mean you're, never going to do anything wrong because you know.Obviously there are situations where you do yeah and again. I've seen a lotof managers react very badly to somebody giving them feed back becausethey see themselves at, like you say as thatsort of parent, as that you know being above the employee and therefore howday you question me, you know it's not it's, not your pet. I should be allpowerful and all WHYS, and I shouldn't get criticized and I think that's the thingwe see it is criticism rather than actually. I think this would be areally helpful thing for you to think about, but we yet we take any negativefee back as we're doing everything terribly we're really bad and it's achallenge against us personally and then positive feedback that impassionjoin kicks in, and you think oh no. I can't I'm not I'm not good enough forthat, but what about all thesethings that I did right a thing and the sothere's something weird and Il Psyche. I think that makes us want to beexactly middle of the road think. I don't believe that I could be reallyreally brilliant and I don't want you to tell me that I'm really bad. I justwant to be in the Middle Yeah and I wonder how that's all played out withpeople mostly working remotely over the last year. You know: Have People felteven more unable to address some of these situations or have they? You knowall their managers that have been great at it. I don't know I think, from whatI see and here there's a mixture. So I think a lot of employees have kind offelt just really out on a limb and without being able to sort of talk topeople unless it's in a group meeting and actually people need one to onediscussions as well. Do you think it's easier to have those conversations on avideo call when you're not right in front of the person when they're, notin the room and in your space? Does it feel a bit less confrontation, Al Maybeor a bit you've got a bit of distance from them, so it feels a bit safer tohave those conversations yeah, it's an interesting one. So I've managed teamswhere people are in different countries before I've done that for a number ofyears, and so you get used to doing that because you have to have one toone conversations over video, so I feel like for me I'm fine with that, but Ithink for a lot of people. This was suddenly. This was upon them thateverything's, video and not in person. So I don't know I'd be interesting toknow what people think sort of a year or and how do they feel about that?Will they continue so, for example, if offices companies go back to the officeorder two days a week, something like that. Would they continue to have theone to one meetings, not on those days on other days. It be interesting to seeyeah and it's probably something to talk to your teams about Yeah Yeah.They experience because everyone could be different as well and everyone'sgoing to want different things from it. But it's if your. If your goal is tocreate that more, you know relaxed friendly environment,where, where you eradicate that sense of fear and that sense of parent childand make it a more of a safer place for people to have open conversations, then,if, if these sorts of tools work well...

...for people, if they break down thesebarriers, if they make people feel more relaxed because they're sat in theirown home, your sat in your own home, you know you're, seeing into people'spersonal spaces. It puts people on more of a level playing field. Sometimes itcan feel a bit yeah just relax and safer and maybecomfortable. You can sit at your screen, but with notes in front of you, if you,if you tould, need notes or anything like that to help you prepare, so it'syeah. It's definitely, I think something worth exploring that if thosetools are helping people and helping your culture, you feel a less scary place for peoplethan that could definitely be something to think about yeah. I think it's onefor line managers to think about, because again we back again to thisthing of everyone. Talking about going back to work and back to normal- and Ithink that's such a miss opportunity to think about what has worked well overthe last year and if there are things people want to keep from the experience.So, for example, if there are people that find those one to oneconversations more comfortable from home, then why not do that and continuewith that? We're talking about our theme is difficult conversations and itis mental health awareness week. It is, and that's a really good time also totalk about those kinds of conversations, becausewe have been hearing a lot at the discourse around mental health o mynessover the last few years as all bit about talking about making space forthose conversations, I's kind of difficult conversations talking aboutyour mental health and talking about mental health at work is particularlyimportant because that's where a lot of people's ill health starts is at work. So what can we do about that? How canwe make work a safe space for talking about eradicating fear? I think that'sprobably the conversation that people are most afraid of having with theiremployer, and it's also probably the conversations employers are most afraidof people coming to them with you need to talk about mental health becausenobody knows how to deal with it. No one is how to react, and it's reallyhard, if you're, an employee who's struggling with their mental health, togo and have that conversation. If you know the person sitting opposite, youdoesn't want to be having that conversation either there's nothingmore kind of uncomfortable and scary. So how can we make workplaces safeenvironments to talk openly about mental health yeah? So it's beeninteresting because Mental Health Awareness Week, I think there is a lotof discussion about it's good to talk. I think there's less discussion aboutthe listening part of it and how people can handle those conversations nowthere are training causes that you can do on mental health awareness, whichare really good. I've done hope of them that really help with how to listen andhow to offer advice and how to give people space to be able to talk. So Irecommend looking up those if people are interested in learning more aboutthat, but it's a lot of those things that I've talked about just there. It'syou know listening, I think not jumping in with with tonsof suggestions and advice. I think it's probably people maybei jump to that.Naturally thinking or just tell you about all these different things, butactually maybe it's more bout listening and I think, as an employer, if you, ifit's somebody in your team who comes to you with something like that, I thinkit's asking them what space they need, what time they need kind of offeringthem these things that hopefully, would feel like a relief tothat person to say okay, I can take some time for myself and right now. Ithink it's those things because you know I've seen people at work whosuffer with their mental health and then they become more and more stressedabout not being able to leave work and having leaving their work for a whileand actually sometimes that's. The best thing to do is to actually park it. Letsomeone else handle that and take the time you need. So I think it's aboutyour listening and kind of allowing people the space to talk about it andnot feel like it's going to impact them their career and things like that,because I think that's it's that fear that people worry about yeah and Ithink you touch on a really important point. There is what happens after thatconversation, that's really important...

...and as an employer, you can't waituntil somebody comes to you to have that conversation to think about whatyou're going to do, because there needs to be a plan in place for how you'reGoin to support those people. You know what steps can you take? Can you takework off them? Can somewhere else stepping and they have time off. Canthey have flexible working? You know, what are you going to do, you're goingto offer them? You know access to you to healthservices because we wont know the the the Nahs on de Immense train and it'swaiting list to horrendous. So you know you can to offer them. You know private access to it to health.Carry you going to offer them, you know listening services, what whatis your plan and have that in place before somebody comes to you in a pointof distress, so that you're, you know you're not, then, in a panic and a flatgo o, my God. What do we do? You know this is awful and actually have that inplace, because I think the whole time Tok campaign, I think, is brilliant.And yes, we should be talking more about mental health and that's great,but the actual action. What happens afterit? You know talking about. It is one thing, but I think most people who strugglewith them and our health will say you know: We've been talking about it foryears. People are talking about it and then they either don't listen to orthey're dismissed or people are a bit scared of them because they don'tunderstand mental health conditions or they just get ignored and left bythe system to just struggle, and it's all very well talking about thesethings, but we have to have plans in place for what we do next yeah. I think that's the thing in thereare, as you mentioned there are. You know, private services, that you canresearch in Vance if you're an employer so that you have those things ready forpeople if that situation arises. So I think it's looking into those thingsthat there is help available for people because, as you say, for for a lot ofpeople just talking to their employe about it would be a massive step toactually do that and then it's like then what what's the next thing, that'sgoing to happen and yeah just really understanding what will help becausealso has been everyone's different, so different things are going to helpdifferent people in different ways. So it's kind of understanding that youknow there was there's somebody I worked was actually in one of my teamsa few years ago, who was really struggling and actually wanted to justtake less responsibility in their role, but didn't actually not want to come towork. He said, I remember him saying you know. No, if I'm suddenly in thisvacuum of not going to work. I feel like that. We worse being lived on hisown, and so actually we just rejected his role so that he had a kind of lessresponsibility, but things to do but could also go home early. If you neededto- and things like that, so I think it's kind of thinking about some ofthose creative ways. You can help people yeah, definitely so thinking back to the workplace ofthe day to day situations. What are some of the most difficultconversations you've had to have at work? My Oh Krikey! Well, there's theusual kind of pay rise discussions which I got better at more. I progress.I don't know about. You got better at having those discuss yeah, but actually,I think the the most difficult ones were where I've experienced difficultbehavior towards me and it's. How do you deal with those situations? So I'vedefinitely haven't always dealt with them. Well, so I've gone from. You know chatting back at somebody in the middleof the meeting, not good at all. Don't advise that one to kind of waiting too long to speak tothe person by which time they didn't even know, they'd said somethingobjectional anyway, and they kind of forgotten all about it and then kind oflearning. What does work so sometimes talking to somebody quite soonafterwards, if they've said something to you and having the examples workswell too, because sometimes you know just to give you an idea. You knowsomething really sexist said to me in a meeting I'd either when I was younger, Iprobably would have not known what to do, and it would have annoyed me formonths yeah, because I didn't deal with it. So then I sort of like a journey.Isn't it to go to then being sort of...

...daring enough to shout back in themeeting like I said, don't advise it to then year waiting too long to speaksomeone. Then you kind of learn: Don't you that? Actually there is a time thatyou can speak to somebody give them the example and address it with them. Nowthose conversations don't always go well, because again people can't takethe feedback away, so they don't always go well. There are people that have youknow then, to do she's really emotional. Isn't she all she's really difficult,but there are some people that can take that feed back. You know I can think ofan example where someone said I didn't know that would upset you, like. Ididn't realize saying that would upset you, so I think it really can depend onthe situation and yeah there's. Definitely no like magic answer todealing with it. What about you? Oh goodness, I well actually, when I wasso it's not particularly a workplace discussion,but just when we were saying that I was thinking some of the the things I'vestruggled with most have been kind of professional conversations, buton so on satia media and things like that. So when I m I live half my lifeon twitter and I've had a few clashes with people before where things havebeen said, and it's I think, because twitter is such an immediate platformand you only have a really small space. To put your responses, it can be veryblond, and people come across is very aggressive, and then that makes yourise to them be equally aggressive and it can end up in a real clash. Ifyou're not careful- and I was just thinking- you know a little wile ago- somebodywas was posting on twitter about work. They were looking for for FreeNance content creators, of which I am one. So I just message back on I'dreally love to to hear more about this and they just replied back going. Thisisn't for female, led businesses. I was like pardon, and I R I really confusedby that, and I wasn't sure if they meant, because I was a female orbecause I predominantly as a free lance of workwith female led businesses that sort of my niche. So I was like okay and I wasjust going to leave it, but then somebody else responsed going so is itjust for men and they were like? Oh No. No, it's just this person only workswith women, so they're not right for it, and I was just like what- and Ieverything in me just wanted to be like that and I tweet back in, but I wasquite proud of myself this time because I did, I did rain it in, and I did Idid respond, but just to query the situation and very calmly- and I thinkthat's that is the key really with these conversations- is trying as muchas possible to take the emotion out of it, because that you know all of theseconversations are quite amative, whether you're talking about beingreally serious, like your mental health, with you're talking about somethingabout like your salary, which could be, you know the difference between youliving a comfortable lifestyle and you really struggling. So that's quite anamative situation. It's even more Rimasi. If you know that one of yourcolleagues is being paid more than you or whatever you know your job could be on the line.Somebody said something horrible about you, no meeting, that's really upsetyou. You know. All of these things are quite emotional situations, so I thinkbeing able to remove that emotion and just talk calmly, factually steadily is really good, but thatthat's one that didn't go well. They didn't take that fee back well at alland they sent me a lot of sweary, angry tweets and them blocked me yeah. Iremember that one yeah I was there. I do remember that one and- and I couldsay I think you know from my perspective- you had responded calmly,but to that person they didn't just didn't want that feedback at all, andso we responded really angrily, and you know these situations can happen.They're not just work related either. I was thinking about last summer I hadsome really challenging conversations with a particular friend of mine overthe black cloves matter. Protests now he's somebody who you know is a veryopen kind of you know forward thinking, person normally, but just a reallystruggled with understanding his own privilege, and it got to the pointwhere every time I met he wanted to talk about it, whereas I didn't I'drather just sort of kind of could see...

...that it was better. We didn't talkabout it and it escalate the point where, in the end, I had to send himthe essay written by Renade Lodge where I'm no longer talking to white peopleat race. I said: Can you just read that, and you know calmly read it at home andthat's why? I don't think we should talk about it any more, and it was likea moment where I was like instead of ranting back, I was like kind of triedto be calm because it's really hard to do it so hard to take the emotion outand be calm and actually so. This is a question. We've said you a lot of the time. Theseconversations might not go well and they might not end up with a positiveresolution. Is it still worth having these conversations because a lot ofpeople don't have them for fear that they won't go well, so is it stillworse trying to talk to people about these difficult things, even if it'snot going to end up the way that you would hope? I think it is like, forexample, that I the example you talked about with the freelance contracts. Ithink it was better to say or to question it that really all you did wasquestion it just asked. You know what does this mean and I think it's betterto do that cause thing. Otherwise it would have eaten away. You like whatwas that about that's weird like it would have. Yes, I think it is betterto, and I think you probably learn some ways of like techniques of like you say:You've responded calmly, so it's good experience in how to do that. Yeah.Definitely, and I'm with you. When you talk about families, I am very much inthe the school of m. You know my family was very much like you get things outand it's better because then it's off your chest and you're not carrying thisweight around and it's not going to impact your future behavior aroundthese people are around these situations, and even if, in that momentthey don't respond. Well, you don't know that they might be going away andthinking about it, they might munit over in their heads and it might takethem. You know a month six months a year, but eventually it might thatyou've set in motion a thought process that might influence their behaviorlater on down the line. It's not necessarily going to get you a pay rise,but you know they might start them thinking about. Okay, actually, maybeshe does deserve a Paris. Maybe I should be thinking about this. You knowso, even if it doesn't work instantly, it might be that they're they'remulling it over in their brains really quickly, because I'm we are running outof time in our betes studio that we don't ever want to leave. What are yourtop tips for people who are about to embark on a difficult conversation? OhKrikey, so sit down and gather your facts so thatyou're clear about what you're talking about, if you possibly can plan whereyou're going to have the conversation so like, where is going to be best sothat you kind of get the right place for it? And this the one we've been talking aboutemotion, if you, if you can just be try and think about it as calmly as you canand take the emotion out, then you're more likely to have a better outcomethan kind of being really being really emotional. And for and I supose the toptake away that we've been talking about. All the way through for in terms ofemployers is to be open to listening and not take negative feaces as a criticism, and itgoin guess for employers and employees see any kind of thing that you mightperceive as negative as an opportunity to learn and to grow and be willing totake that on board and actually listen, rather than just waiting for yourchance to speak and defend yourself actually think about. Well. What can Itake from this? That I can I can use to move forward yeah. I think that's thelesson for all of us. Actually in this is remembering to listen yeah. I think that's what that was agood point for us to end on actually definitely so go out there and havedifficult conversations and learn from one another and grow and will be muchbetter for it definitely well. Thank you mo for joining me in this beautifulstudio that I'm just going to look at in another of believe. Yes, I thank youO for listening. This has been the re imagination at work. PODCAST. We arewatch this space. You can find us at...

...watch this space TUK and we are on allyour favorite social media platforms at watch. This S P ce so find us. Somesation media tell us what you think and what your tips are for. Having so goodconversations, an TUK consates that you've been having and how save rich tolife and have train from them and join us the next time at the imagination atwork a I T.

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