Benefits of the RESOLVE Model

Managing difficult conversations

Before the pandemic, the subject of how to manage a difficult conversation was one that was always of interest in many business sectors; such as teachers and parents, local authorities and their service users, health service and patients, professional specialists and their clients, and managers in a wide range of business and organisational sectors with their colleagues and staff teams.

Within the workplace, there are often several themes that regularly crop up as the subject of a difficult conversation:

- poor performance;
- irregular attendance;
- time off work to excessive ‘sickness’;
- a breakdown in working relationships with others;
- inappropriate behaviour and language;
- or the first informal stage of a disciplinary process

The consequences

In the current pandemic environment, the scope for difficult conversations has expanded dramatically, with people not wanting to return to work, but have been asked to, or people wanting to go back to work but can’t.

In reality many managers; supervisors and team leaders have not received any training in this subject.

As a consequence, they:

- feel underprepared;
- are nervous about having the conversation;
- don’t enjoy what they perceive as a negative conflict;
- are concerned about becoming unpopular;
- worry that the conversation risks damaging the work environment

Adding structure and preparation

In terms of the actual process, managers are not aware of the need for structure to a meeting or how to prepare for it; they don’t know what to say, or how to say it. Very often they fear issues about the other person such as denial, hostility, rejection of another perspective. Often, the other person views the problem as ‘not theirs’, blaming the system, the process, the customers, managers, or the organisation; anything but themselves.

The outcome of all of this is that the conversations are:

- put off;
- postponed;
- ignored;
- hidden under the carpet

The eventual cost

There are costs to the ‘pretend it’s not there’ approach. These show up as worry, anxiety, whispered conversations, distractions, loss of focus, conversations that skirt round topics and are essentially pointless. This all saps energy, and costs time and money!

The benefits of well managed difficult conversations are:

- small but persistent problems are resolved quickly;
- greater understanding about a particular work related issue;
- stress and tension is reduced;
- distracting whispered conversations would be fewer;
- focus and attention would return back to the work in hand;
- normal conversations within the wider team are resumed;
- relationships would be maintained;
- days off sick would be reduced;
- effective and productive members of staff would be less likely to leave the organisation due to unnecessary fallouts in the office

What would this mean to you in terms of money saved, or money not spent?