Difficult discussions, talking to staff, handling the problem
Difficult discussions, talking to staff, handling the problem.
There was an item on Life Hack recently about how to approach a difficult talk you need to give somebody who works for or under you. I read it with interest and thought how touchy it can indeed be when you need to “tick off” somebody, yet you don’t want to vex them.
The main thing, when you broach an awkward subject (and I suppose this applied to everybody in life, not just staff) is to bear in mind your AIM. Ask yourself what is your AIM in speaking out ? Because there is no point in even beginning if you are not heading towards your AIM.
I said precisely this to a friend who, like me, runs holiday cottages here in France. His guests had arrived, the cottage was ready, and the parasol on the patio was up and looking pretty. During the evening there was a high wind and the parasol, which had remained up, got blown away and broken. In the letting contract, and in the cottage info, it states perfectly clearly that the guests are responsible for looking after the property – which would include, of course, putting the parasol down if a wind gets up, just as they would in their own house. My friend went to the guests and, being an extremely polite (to a fault) man, he said: “would you like to contribute to the cost of a new parasol?” And the guests replied – no.
So where was the point in broaching the subject ? In his boots I’d have said “Oh dear, I see your parasol got blown away! Looks pretty much broken.” And I’d have left it at that, allowed them to enjoy their holiday, and on their departure I’d have said “no breakages apart from the parasol, I see. I’m just deducting 35 Euros for that which I hope will buy me a new one.”
Now, the important point here is that, when my friend approached the guests, he – despite all his good manners – left them feeling irritated. Nobody likes being told (in effect) that they have been wrong about something, and nobody likes being asked for money. The guests re-mained stoney-faced throughout their stay, left and never came back.
So my friend might as well have just deducted the money and be done with it. After all, that was his AIM.
I made a similar mistake with our caretakers. They have a yappy YAPPY dog who drives me round the twist. When we took them on we were aware of their yappy dog and stated in the contract that the dog was to be kept in the back garden. Indeed it was – for the first few weeks. Then, bit by bit, the dog was allowed in to the front garden too. This meant that whenever I went out and whenever I came in, I had this bl…….y dog yapping at me – yap, yap, yap. I tried several times to be really nice about it and to make a kind of “ooooh, nice doggy is a bit noisy” deal, and then I tried saying to the dog ”don’t you yap at me, naughty lovely doggie” …. But the message was just not getting across. I realized then that I was not achieving my AIM.
My AIM was for them to move the dog back behind closed doors or in to the back garden. I handled it by making light of it but by being firm. Next time I walked by I called out “move the dog in to the back garden please! I don’t like being barked at.” And then within seconds I went on to a different subject: “I love that flower-bed by the way. Are those the plants we bought at the market?”
Message put over.
Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist. She is widely travelled and writes regularly for magazines and blog sites. Her sketches are on her web site http://www.turquoisemoon.co.uk . Her books are available from Amazon and on Kindle, or can be ordered from several leading book stores.
Click below for “The Man with Green Fingers”, a novle set in Cyprus:-