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Most of us are careful about how we tackle sensitive issues with colleagues and family members. Each involves special considerations in how to go about raising a subject you have been avoiding.

At work, managers are often uncertain about tackling staff on issues that may be judged ‘sensitive’. When not handled with clarity and confidence, discussions that centre on performance, attendance or timekeeping, or more intimate matters like behaviour or even personal hygiene can create unnecessary tensions with the result that things can get worse, not better.

I have provided some pointers, and you can download the article Walking on Eggshells to help people who need to tackle delicate matters in a productive, fair and balanced way, to be sure of getting the results they need. Striking the right note of respectful concern for the employee, personally and professionally, while addressing the job performance or other issues directly can be challenging.

Remember that sincerity goes a long way, so the staff member should understand that you are genuinely concerned and why. If you are uncomfortable about raising the subject you need to discuss, tell them. After all, any sensitive person would be cautious, and it is OK to explain that without making a big deal of it. For example “I been wanting to talk to you but was not sure how to approach it” is a sincere expression of concern for the other person and it shows your human side (which sometimes disappears when a manager is nervous).

At home it is a different matter. We may be afraid of their reaction, hurting their feelings, appearing disloyal, or all of these. Also, many domestic issues rumble on for years, and bringing it up again can ferment disaster. So a different kind of caution is needed. On the plus side, the advantage of tackling a sensitive issue at home is that we can approach the conversation over time, and we don’t have to appear as decisive as a manager would. We can also offer a different kind of personal support at home (though beware of interfering or ‘supervising’).

Download the article: Walking on eggshells, how to discuss sensitive issues

Consider staff training: Courageous conversations

 

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