5 Employee Conversation Styles And How To Get Through

Recently in Managing People at Work, Cal Butera highlighted 5 very noticeable reactions we face when confronting difficult employees.

Principally, we all are more difficult to work with when we are in unsafe environments. We can handle the truth, but what we can’t handle is being shamed. We will wiggle, fib, misdirect, and disengage any way we can to avoid being shamed. Here are 5 difficult communication styles and what to do to reach your employees:

We judge too harshly that silence is a sign of being negative or disengaged. Actually, for over 50% of us, silence is our best thinking and contemplative behavior.

What to do – check before correcting someone and you may achieve significant insight. Also, through your carefully worded questions, if negative energy is there, you can be sure to clarify your intent as wanting to help and have a better relationship/partnership.

There may be more beneath the surface than the single issue at hand. Other factors at home or at work can be making this current issue more difficult than it appears at first glance..

What to do – always have Kleenex nearby, particularly if you know the employee or current issue may lead to a highly sensitizing reaction. Be sympathetic and stop talking. Let the emotions play out and acknowledge your awareness and sensitivity to wanting to help them past the situation.

Is it high-pitched or low-pitched laughter? Low is good. High-pitched laughter may reflect underlying embarrassment or self-esteem issues.

What to do – do not take it personally, as we may have a tendency to think the laughter is at our expense. Smile and don’t laugh back, as they may misinterpret this as us laughing at them. Remain serious and get back on track using as much empathy as you can. Don’t take their possible bait of minimizing you or the importance of your message.

Anger could be from defensiveness, contempt, control issues, or other challenge concerns. They may be saying we are the problem not them and it could erupt into a personal attack.

What to do – tone the messaging down and don’t get emotional. Focus on facts. Clarify — there are some things we can discuss and some things we cannot.

“We are all entitled to our own opinions, not to our own facts.”~ Daniel Moynihan

“To argue with a fool only proves there are two.” ~ Doris Smith

They may profusely apologize, and it may be a bit too much. They look down, become dismissive, play hurt, and look for ways to get off the hook.

What to do – be wary of this simply being a tactic. Focus on their agreement with the issue, and then focus on solutions and decisions, and gain their commitment to the next steps

Tough Times. Tough Talk. Tough on You.

Keep it fair.


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