Have a hard conversation coming up? Need some advice? Check out a new book by Shari Harley, "How To Say Anything To Anyone: A Guide To Building Business Relationships That Really Work," published by Austin-based Green Book Press. She uses as an example the topic of discussing an employee's body odor. Trust me, it happens. First, she says the manager must introduce the conversation with a simple "John, I'd like to talk with you." Second, blast away with hand to heart empathy: "This is a little awkward...I wish I didn't have to tell you this, I'm doing this because I care about you and I want you to be successful." This strikes me as a very Buddhist approach which asks that we have the "right intention" before taking an action. Third, (she writes that this is powerful) state: "John, I've noticed that (insert conduct)." Why is that powerful? Because the statement is based on what the manager has observed (no palming it off on co-workers which can trigger an employee's defense mechanisms) and it is direct. Being direct is being kind, not stretching out the message like the drip,drip of water torture. Step four, again with empathy, is to explain how his odor is effecting his colleagues. Step five is to invite John to talk. As in, "What are your thoughts?" The next step is to make suggestions on how to fix the issue. Last, tell the employee: "Thank you for being willing to have this conversation with me."
The book is short, to the point and infused with useful techniques. Give it a read.