In a world of heightened social and cultural awareness, workplace diversity, and political unrest, being “politically correct” has taken on a whole new meaning. Now more than ever, employees and managers alike are navigating how to effectively discuss controversial topics while not breaching company policies and most of all, offending each other.
Depending upon who you ask, some say it’s virtually impossible to have “uncomfortable conversations” in the workplace without temperatures rising. However, the alternative of forcing employees to keep their opinions on tough topics to themselves is not a healthy approach to fostering collective engagement and professional development.
As the CEO of Epic Collaborative Advisors consulting firm and a DEI expert with over 25 years of notable experience in HR management, I’ve helped countless organizations navigate these waters, and I want to help you!
Below are a few tips to consider before striking up a sticky conversation in the workplace:
- Be open and honest, but think before you speak: Remember when you were a child and you were told, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all? Same rules apply here. There is a way to present your case without sounding pompous and condescending towards others.
- Listen with your ears and your heart: Some conversations require you to place yourself in another person’s shoes. Be empathetic and consider the past and present circumstances of others.
- Courtesy check-ins for the win: Some team members are often directly impacted by current events. Check in to make sure your colleagues are ok. It demonstrates compassion and people will be more apt to trust you if you do.
- Respond don’t react: You may not agree with the opinions of others, but that doesn’t give you a pass to lose your cool. Rather than reacting in frustration or anger, simply walk away from the conversation. Remember, this is your job and flying off the handle could jeopardize your career.
As we cross and approach the one-year anniversaries of events such as the death of George Floyd − which sparked global protests and increased activism of social justice movements such a Black Lives Matter, I encourage you to visit Great Place to Work. Here, you will find helpful tips on how to effectively communicate on sensitive subject matters that might directly impact your colleagues more than you know.
Although you have to thread the needle carefully, there are many ways to successfully manage crucial conversations in the workplace to ensure all parties involved feel heard, respected, and valued. Current events don’t have to be kept quiet. Let’s talk about it!