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Say What Needs to be Said

October 20, 2021
  |   Steve Lowery

I have found in both my professional and personal life that I sometimes struggle with being “upfront” and telling someone what really is going on. I will often try and sugarcoat the situation and try to divert attention from what needs to be addressed. The truth is that I have a strong distaste for confrontation and try to “keep the peace.”

But is this healthy and the right thing to do? Do I have the right balance?

When dealing with team members, if there is an issue that needs to be addressed, I have found myself using an approach of starting off with a compliment and then introduce the issue, all while trying to constantly reinforce the positives. There is nothing wrong with pointing out something positive. And frankly, that should still be done. However, the challenge with my method is that the root of the problem doesn’t always get fully addressed and I tend to see no further action made to resolve the problem. Why does this happen? I have found that if almost solely just focus the positive, I cause everyone to leave the meeting feeling like everything was fine and that there was never something wrong.

When dealing with clients, if things are not going the way you or they may want, it can be easy to give them the ol’ “smoke and mirrors” answer. This means that you divert their attention to less pertinent matters and try to make that content seem more important than what it is. Let’s be real, clients see through that. And really what you are doing is creating opportunities for them not to trust you.

Just Say It

Say what “needs to be said”. This seems straightforward, but, from personal experience, it’s not always easy. I don’t recommend you come across as blunt and unprofessional just to get your point across. Furthermore, you don’t need to be confrontational. Just tell it how it is, meaning be open and honest about what you see. I have found what works best is to talk about options moving forward that can address the issue.

I find more and more that people just want to know what’s going on, whether it be good or bad. What really makes someone stand out is being proactive, open and coming to the table with options. These ideas might not always work out but at least you are trying. And people will respect you for it. I have seen benefit from telling what’s going on upfront and then collaborating on steps moving forward.

Again, it’s not easy. It takes a certain level of courage. But ultimately, you need to step back and ask yourself: What is the best way to serve my client, my team member, etc.? True service in this context includes having the ability to tactfully tell people what needs to be said.

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