No matter what kind of relationship you’re in, when you hear the words, “we need to talk,” you probably start to freak out a little. Are you breaking up? Are you getting fired? Are you terminally ill? It’s totally normal for your mind to immediately jump to the worst-case scenario. So you can imagine how your team of employees feels when you utter those words. Even if everyone doesn’t automatically panic, the rumors will spread quickly. Soon, everyone’s panicked and you haven’t said anything. Here’s how you can tell your team “we need to talk” without overwhelming them. 


Watch your body language


Remember that everyone’s eyes are on you and they’re reading your nonverbal cues before they hear what’s coming out of your mouth. Be mindful of your body language, gestures and facial expressions. Don’t cross your arms, use eye contact, and lean forward like you’re interested in what people are saying and genuinely concerned about their wellbeing.  


Use “we”


When you use pronouns like “I” and “you” in these serious conversations, you’re inadvertently creating a divide. You’re making teams and you might even be assigning blame, even though it’s not intentional. You want to rally everyone to work together, to foster a mindset of teamwork and collaboration, not divisiveness or adversity. 


Ask questions


Instead of doling out orders and solutions, start by asking open-ended questions. This works twofold. First, you’re demonstrating humility—you don’t have all the answers, and you’re relying on your team to help you out. And second, you’re encouraging your team to be problem-solvers and think strategically.  


Slow down


Before you make any kind of announcement, pause for a moment and plan it out. Consider the current mood of your employees, the best means of communicating your message, and how it will be received. Some conversations are best held in person, but for others, a phone call, email or Facebook message might suffice. And understand how your employees prefer to communicate. For some employees, a phone call from the boss would totally throw them off and put them on the defensive. Then, choose the best, most compassionate words to communicate clearly to your team.   


Speak less and listen more


The best leaders are great at listening, gauging the attitude of their employees, and then reading their reaction. In fact, after you deliver a tough message or have a difficult conversation, listen to their responses to assess how well they understood what you said. Do they have advice, insight, feedback? Listen to what they say and don’t take it for granted. If nothing else, you’ll show your team that you respect and value their opinions—and that does wonders for morale. 


For more tips on communicating effectively to your team, contact PrideStaff Denver NW today.   

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