Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it! What we do and don’t talk about at work these days has changed. We’ve become much more open and willing to discuss things that in our parent’s day and age, they’d never dream of sharing. This is a double-edged sword–both good and bad–blurring the lines of what is considered taboo.
Before we dive into a few of the things that are a bit more acceptable to discuss these days, I’d like to preface with–no matter what is being discussed–the who, how and when of these discussions is still as important as it ever was. Water cooler conversations with peers in a gossiping manner isn’t productive or helpful. Coming in as a new employee and discussing your financial problems and family challenges, doesn’t set a good impression. As we look at my 4 things I think are valuable to discuss nowadays, keep in mind that I’m talking about with productive intentions and with the appropriate person(s).
1. Conflict – Conflict arises, and while it might seem taboo to talk about, address and deal with issues with your manager, colleagues and peers as they happen (Take time to cool down if needed before you address!). There is no value in holding onto negative feelings for prolonged periods of time. Have an open discussion, focus on listening to the other person. Ask clarifying questions. Ask that they hear your point of view. Remain calm and keep the overall objective of business performance top of mind. Work on a resolution with the person with a conflicting view point. Only bring in others when another opinion is necessary, or an agreement can’t be found and is necessary. Most times a consensus isn’t needed and agreeing to disagree is okay.
2. Harassment – Hot topic, right? Obviously, if you are feeling threatened or feel that you are being harassed, talk with your HR lead. They will help you decipher and plot a course of action. Unfortunately, in the height of so much publicity around this topic, sensitivity to the topic has arose. For the sake of those that truly are in harassment situations, let’s make sure that we are talking about harassment when it is truly harassment. If you are questioning, talk with HR and not those around you.
3. Job dissatisfaction – Life is too short to work every day at a job that you don’t like. Don’t get me wrong, there are things you aren’t going to like about your job. That is just life. But when it becomes dread/anxiety or simply lack of motivation, sitting around wallowing about it doesn’t do you or your employer any good. Truth be told, most employers want you to be happy with your job. A candid conversation with your manager (where emotion is tabled) about what things you aren’t enjoying can be enlightening and definitely not taboo. Often, your manager may not be aware and has the flexibility to do something about it. If not, they can at least give you the ‘why’ things are the way they are, a new perspective on the importance, or opportunity to help develop a long-term plan to make changes. If you approach this as a whining session, you won’t see the results you’d hoped for!
4. Personal issues – Yes, this is a broad topic, but there are so many. From pregnancy to mental health, to family balance and more. The point here is that when you find these things impacting your work, you need to discuss them with your manager or HR. I’ve heard horror stories and know that there are some bad managers out there, but 9 times out of 10, your manager wants you to be successful in your role and as a person. Being up front allows for planning, certain accommodations to be made, and better understanding. If you feel uncomfortable talking with your manager, HR should help! Remember, the best way to approach personal issue discussions is not as a need for a crutch but for understanding and collaboration to help you be the most productive in your role. A win/win for you and your employer.
For more information on how to hold crucial conversations around these so-called “taboo” topics and others, join us for the AgCareers.com workshop, Crucial Conversations, on April 24 – 25 in Minneapolis, MN. This workshop will provide valuable framework and tips for executing difficult conversations in an effective and direct manner. For questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.