Difficult Conversations with Employees and Assumptions | LEAP Podcast

by | Jun 27, 2022 | Podcast

In my series ‘Difficult Conversations With Employees,’ I focus on different aspects of navigating tough times with employees. From making sure that they feel heard, down to assuming some of the responsibility of the conflict yourself.   
This video focuses on a huge part of conflict called ‘assumptions’. An assumption is when you go into something like a conversation thinking that you know something without concrete evidence or proof. For example, if you automatically think that an employee flopped a presentation because they ‘just don’t care about the company’ then you’re making an assumption.   
My advice about assumptions? Leave it at the door. Assumptions have absolutely no place in a difficult conversation with an employee.   
Adopt what I like to call a ‘beginner’s mind’. That is a good way to get questions answered about the things that you don’t know. When speaking to an employee, let them offer you their reasoning and explanations without interjecting your assumption. If you ask them to help you understand the conflict then that is much different than assuming that you know.   
If you choose to be accusatory or assume something, the only thing you’ll accomplish is a defensive employee. That won’t lead to a resolution of the issue at hand.   
Learn through your employee’s eyes. There may be something that you overlooked.   

Show Transcript

In this video, I’m going to talk more about how to have difficult conversations with your employees. And it’s going to focus on your assumptions.

Hi, everybody. I’m A.J. Grossman, divorce lawyer, and owner of Leap Frog Divorce. So assumptions are huge. And we all assume things, especially when we go into difficult conversations with our employees. We assume that maybe they didn’t read enough, we assume maybe they didn’t research enough, we assume maybe they didn’t care enough about what it was they were supposed to do. We assume that they don’t, they don’t care about the company, or they don’t care about their department.

Here’s my tip, check your assumptions at the door and leave them out of the conversation. And the best way to do that is to adopt what I would call a beginner’s mind. Think that you know nothing. And this is a conversation to get your questions answered. And to find out more information about what you don’t know.

Okay, so you could start by saying something like, and we’ll assume that Suzanne, Suzanne is the hypothetical employee. You could say, Suzanne, thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me today. I know you’re really busy. So I appreciate you giving me some of your time to talk about this conflict that we seem to be having between the two of us. And I want to start by hearing more about your perspective on this conflict. And I also want to make sure that I’m not assuming anything that’s not true. And so I want you to really help me understand what happened, maybe some of the challenges that you had maybe some of the roadblocks that you ran into, you know, what was your intention going into this project and help me understand where things went awry.

So that is very different from coming into that conversation and saying something like, Suzanne, it really seems to me that you weren’t interested in doing a good job on this project. You know, you’re coming in with an assumption, you’re assigning Suzanne judgment, and you’re immediately placing blame. All that’s going to do for your employee is put them on the defensive and probably cause her to clam up and not be open with you.

And so even though in your gut, you may, that may be the approach you want to take, I’m really going to encourage you and suggest that you take a softer approach, more of a learning conversation. You’re here to learn more about her perspective, and what happened from her viewpoint through her eyes.

I hope you found this video valuable if you did, please consider liking and subscribing. I’m releasing new videos all the time. And if you have any questions about this tip today, please feel free to reach out.

Thank you so much. Have a wonderful day and be well.

Arthur J. Grossman J.D., LL.M., Esq

Arthur J. Grossman J.D., LL.M., Esq

AJ Grossman graduated at the top of his Florida law school class, has been trained in Collaborative Divorce, has a Master of Laws degree in Dispute Resolution, and is a Barrister member of the invite-only Central Florida Family Law Inn of Court. His aggressive advocacy on behalf of his clients provides hope and reassurance throughout challenging divorces.


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