Updated: Jun 12
How to Rein It In!
Despite your efforts to keep sharing on a professional level, some employees may assume you’ve put down a welcome mat for any and all conversations – even those that are inappropriate or uncomfortable. Here are some pointers to help keep it professional.
- If you’re not sure you want to share information or you’re still processing how to handle a situation such as a recent business development, don’t be afraid to say so. Simply say, “Let me think about this further. I’ll get back to you on that.”
- If an employee asks for details that are more personal than you’re comfortable with, try answering a question with a question. For instance, if a team member asks if you’ve ever been depressed, you could try to find out what they’re really asking by saying, “Tell me what’s behind your question.”
A good leader can sometimes turn around such a question by saying, “When you ask that, it makes me wonder if you might be depressed. Would you like to talk about it?”
- If you share information with an employee, decide beforehand how far you will go. After that, shut it down calmly and professionally. For instance, if an employee’s mother recently died, you might divulge your common experience by acknowledging it is a difficult time and expressing sympathy. You could share a life lesson learned such as, “It really made me realize how important it is to savor every moment.”
If the employee presses further, you might say, “I don’t want to go into a lot of details. But it was a difficult time for us.”
Remember, certain topics are always off limits. These include HR issues, personal information (about you, your family or another team member), health conditions, job performance and locker room talk. If an employee brings any of these topics up, calmly and firmly let them know that such information is confidential and must be respected.
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