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Get to know 5 Conversations – Conversation 4 – Challenging unhelpful behaviour.

5 Conversations: Conversation 4 – Challenging unhelpful behaviour by Emmett Abrams

In any workplace, there will be situations where someone engages in unhelpful behaviour that needs to be addressed. While challenging unhelpful behaviour may be the most uncomfortable, it is a necessary one to master in order to build trust. In fact, almost counterintuitively, when this conversation is done well, it can show your conversation partner how much you care about their success that you are willing to give such feedback to help them improve.

The reasons that one might need to have this conversation are quite obvious. There is someone in your team who is doing something detrimental to themselves or the team — whether this is repeated tardiness, interrupting colleagues during meetings, not delivering on what they promise, or any number of other behaviours — and this needs to stop so that the team or individual can function at their full potential.

In order to successfully have this conversation, you must first have clarity around the expectations and use non-confrontational communication. The model for this conversation is just that — a conversation. This is not meant to be a one-way street in which you simply tell someone to stop doing something, but rather to have a conversation with someone about their behaviour.

Non-Violent Communication is a method of mediation that was developed by Marshall Rosenberg and sits at the root of Conversation 4. It is based on Self-Knowing, or having an awareness of your own feelings; Empathy in having the intention to support one another; and Straightforwardness in expressing yourself.

Now that you have those principles in mind, how do you approach the conversation? Well, it is a conversation based on four stages

  1. You should express your observations and feelings to your conversation partner. Your observations should be precise, concrete, and without judgement. These are the facts about the behaviour that you are attempting to challenge, for example, “I’ve noticed that you’ve shown up late to our last three meetings.” With a bit of Self-Knowledge, you should then express how those observations made you feel. This might look like, “this is making me feel frustrated as I have cleared this space, especially for us”
  2. Once you have expressed your observations and feelings, you should open the floor for them to express their own observations and feelings. During this stage, you need to have an open mind and empathy towards what they are expressing. They might say for example that they are spread thin with a lot of meetings on a given day and are trying to action things between, which is what causes them to be late to your meetings.
  3. After you have both expressed your own and gained some understanding from each other’s observations and feelings, then it is time to discuss the needs from one another. You may say that you need your time to be respected and that you need to have enough time in your meetings with each other to cover all of the things you want to discuss.
  4. The final step is to make concrete requests for how to move forward and stop the unhelpful behaviour. Importantly, because this is a conversation, this stage also involves them making concrete requests to you as well. This collaboration will help facilitate an environment that sets you both up for success and is not accusatory or demanding. For example, you may have a request that they arrive to your meetings on time and they may request that you set an agenda for these meetings, so you can efficiently cover all the discussion topics and maybe even gain some time back if you finish the agenda early.

Get to know 5 Conversations – Conversation 4

Conversation 4, while it can feel daunting and uncomfortable, shouldn’t be avoided. Having this conversation will set your team up for success and will build trust between yourself and your conversation partner. The important thing is to have the tools to be able to have this conversation in a non-confrontational manner and to remember that it is not a one-way street.

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Our popular 5 Conversations programme draws on over 35 years of insight and experience to look at how authentic two-way human conversations build relationships, trust and engagement at work.

Engaged employees are more productive, drive innovation forwards and are more loyal to your organisation making 5 Conversations a key tool to drive business performance.

We have updated the 5 Conversations programme and book to include:

  • Customer success stories
  • Impact of psychological safety
  • Link to emotional intelligence
  • Latest neuroscience research and engagement data
  • How to use 5 Conversations with customers

The book can be used, whether or not you have attended a 5 Conversations workshop, to try out 5 Conversations for yourself. It looks at why each conversation is important, how to invite people to have a conversation, examples of what to say and a structure for the interaction. Have an exclusive read of the first two chapters of the book on us for a taster of what you can look forward to.

Author – Emmett Abrams

Emmett Abrams

A multilingual speaker with excellent communication skills and attention to detail. Dependable and organised team player with a highly goal-oriented and success-driven mentality.

Find out more about Emmett