Sticky Solutions

Sticky solutions to your everyday business challenges


Question: During my performance review this year, I received “Did not meet expectations” for two projects that I was responsible for. When I told my manager that I had completed everything that I could, but I avoided asking my colleague for the help I needed to finish because our relationship is strained. My manager told me that I had two choices: learn how to navigate uncomfortable conversations or rely on her to advocate for me. Choosing the latter was the easier path, she said, but unless I learned to overcome my fear of constructive conflict, I would not grow with the organization. Can you give me some advice about how to speak to my colleague about working together more effectively?

Answer: Your manager is right. As you grow in your career, more of the work you will be responsible for will need to get done through a group of people. If you want to grow from an individual contributor to a leader, you’ll need to get good at navigating uncomfortable conversations and mending relationships.

Here are three conversation starters that will help set you on the right path:

  • “I’d like to talk about something that feels important to me. When would be a good time for a conversation?”
  • “I notice I/we have a pattern. Here’s what I see as the issue. What do you think?”
  • “I’ve been avoiding talking to you until now because I’m not always sure the best time/way to approach you. I realize that I should have brought this up sooner, and I’m bringing it up now.”

Once you’ve practiced speaking up about what you need in a timely and honest way, you’re likely to feel less stressed and more confident that you are your own best advocate.

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