In 2010, I was offered a position with global responsibility for the behavior-based safety process I had been involved with for a decade or so leading up to that point. As I talked with the fellow who I would have been reporting to if I accepted the role, I asked about going through a course that would have provided me with the formal credentials for what I had been doing for him in the company’s facilities across North America for the previous five or six years. He said that he didn’t think it was an option because of how much that course would cost. What that told me, since he had sent more than a dozen folks through it previously, was that he wasn’t willing to invest that much into me… While that wasn’t the only reason I turned down the offer, it was certainly one of the reasons – and I’m forever grateful because I like Cindy way better than I could have possibly enjoyed being out of the country two or three weeks each month!
If we’ve worked through each of the last ten questions to thoroughly prepare for a tough conversation with someone we care about, we’ve already invested a significant amount of time and energy.
But that’s not the end of the process! We still need to develop clarity around what we’re willing to do to support any change we’re expecting to see after that conversation and determine how we’ll address the issue if those changes aren’t made.
Even after close to fifteen years in that organization that likely set the standard for trying to squeeze the most out of the least possible investment, that response from my potential new boss told me as much about how much he valued me in that role as it did about the tight-wad culture he and I had to work in. I knew all too well what kind of results I would be expected to achieve in the 75-80 sites I’d be supporting worldwide, and I knew how many hours of work and travel I’d be required to put in to do that. The unwillingness to foot the bill for that formal training told me that those expectations would rise or fall on me alone!
When we work through each of the steps we’ve looked at here to prepare for a tough conversation with a friend or family member, the final thing we need to consider will be the steps we can take to support them moving forward AND how we can provide them with ongoing feedback along the way. Even if we do an amazing job of having the conversation, one of the loudest statements we’ll ever make will be through what we do or don’t say afterward. If they do exactly what we had hoped for and we never mention it again, we’re likely saying it wasn’t all that important to being with. If they make no change at all and we don’t mention that either, we’ve probably lost credibility with them for any other issue we address in the future. But when we’re willing to provide ongoing feedback and support along the way, we’re showing that we value the relationship as well as the outcome
we were hoping for.