When I was a teenager, I had a pretty tight knit circle of friends. They would probably describe me as bold, self-assured, and confident with a dash of defiant thrown into that mix. We were good teens (for the most part) and I was their leader. No, there wasn’t an election that took place- its just how it was. Seeing that I felt a sense of responsibility to the group, I saw my role as their protector. Of all the friends, Aminah was my favorite.

Felipe, another group member, once pointed out that Aminah was also very strong- but in a completely different way. The group became intrigued by this notion. Different, how? He started “Aminah is strong. She could kill you with her fists.” Silence became agreement. “But Kristina, she could kill you with her tongue.” Giggles scattered across the group. Apparently, this was common knowledge that everyone knew, except me.

I was really bothered. How could this group that I loved so dearly find me verbally ruthless? That was never my intention. I wanted to protect them from hurt, but I was the hurt. It took me a couple years to understand what the word “tact” meant. The moment I understood the definition of tact, (basically the ability to be sensitive when delivering difficult conversations) I was taken right back to that conversation with my friends.

Though my intention was to always be truthful and honest, there was a way to still deliver that message with the recipient’s feelings in mind. I spent years learning how to deliver my message while still validating the other person’s opinion, feelings or point of view. It was not an easy journey! I learned that though my intentions were not to hurt anyone, hurt was still the result.

Fast forwarding into adulthood, it is difficult to watch managers that have not learned how to deliver a message with tact. In management, it is important to develop trust with your team. If your intentions are good, but your feedback conversations leave the associate hurt- they may not even receive the intended message.

A few tips to delivering a more effective message are:

  1. Don’t say a word if you are feeling emotional- you have not thought through your words or how your words might make someone feel. Take a walk, call your friend, vent on paper, cry in the bathroom- anything but address what is upsetting you in that moment. Sometimes things that are not even work-related just boil over into our professional life. Take a moment to really figure out why you are upset and how you can approach the conversation.
  2. Everyone is entitled to a different opinion- the thing that makes this world so amazing is that everyone is different. Maybe a colleague has a different way of wanting to work on a project and you don’t think their method would work. How can both of you still value the differing opinions of one another and still accomplish the task?
  3. Agree to Disagree- When both parties have said all they have needed to say, there is no trophy for the one person who convinces the other. You can say, “I respect that you think my idea will not work, but I think I am still going to try.”
  4. Enjoy the partnership- If you say things how they are, you can easily turn colleagues or direct reports off from wanting to share ideas or opinions that differ from yours. Listening to points of views that are different causes you to challenge some of your own reasoning. Additionally, you might find yourself more open to learning and you just might find a more efficient way of completing tasks.

About Tantam Health

Tantam Health specializes in onsite clinics, worksite clinics and nearsite clinics. Their innovative programs, advanced reporting capabilities, and unique structure of their team allows them to deliver customized solutions that exceed their client’s expectations. The company takes a team-based approach to their worksite healthcare delivery model, adhering to patient-centered medical home (PCMH) guidelines set forth by the NCQA. Learn more at www.tantamhealth.com

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