My daughter turned 16 this year (I was 27 when she was born, so you can do the math…) which means we’re in full swing of navigating the teenage years and all of the tricky conversations that go along with it. What I’ve come to realize though, is tough subjects are much easier to discuss when we’re both in the car and heading somewhere. Here me out on this one for a minute… If you think back to the last time you had to call an employee into your office and have a difficult conversation, you may find yourself coming to the same realization… No matter how prepared you are, or how much they know about what’s to be discussed before hand, the act of you simply sitting at your desk facing them (the alpha seat) and them sitting on the other side facing you already sets you up for an uncomfortable conversation. Without the distraction of say sharing a meal across the table, one on one meetings can feel more like an interrogation, whether you mean for them to or not.
So, back to the car rides with my daughter… while sitting side by side in the car and both facing forward, somehow I’ve found it’s much easier to discuss a difficult or touchy subject. No need to worry about eye contact and maintaining it for too long, and less worry about the full view of your facial expressions as the conversation unfolds. And while you may not be able to hop into a car with an employee and take a drive, you can take a walk around the block, building or jobsite and chat along the way. The neutral territory will help level the playing field (no one likes walking into the bosses office for a meeting) and if you know about how long it will take you to complete the lap (plan out your route ahead of time) it will force you to cut to the chase and get to the point, as opposed to a potential long drawn out conversation in your office which may be more difficult to end.
And when you get back to the building, if a follow up needs to be scheduled, or you want to jot down a few notes about the agreement you’ve come to, you can do so then knowing that it’s the final to do before you both move on with your day. So next time you’re dreading calling someone into your office, why not try suggesting taking a walk instead?