Unlocking Tough Conversations With Gene Hammett


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Episode Overview:

"Unlocking Tough Conversations with Gene Hammett" is a transformative journey into the art of effective communication, especially when faced with challenging and sensitive discussions. Guided by Gene Hammett, a renowned leadership and growth expert, this program equips individuals and leaders with the essential skills and mindset needed to navigate difficult conversations successfully. Through a combination of practical techniques, empathy-building strategies, and real-world examples, participants gain a deep understanding of how to approach, engage, and resolve tough dialogues with grace and confidence. This program not only fosters improved relationships but also empowers individuals to unlock their potential for impactful leadership by mastering the art of handling tough conversations in both personal and professional spheres.

Additional Resources:

* Website

[00:00:05] Today, Gene Hammett is going to share with us a framework for having tough conversations. Who's ever had a tough conversation? Raise your hand. Yes, we have all had to have them either in our personal life or in our professional life. We all have them. And this framework is pretty simple, but it's the genius in which he's put the order together that really, I think, is is the goal there. And I think that that's what we need to pay attention to in this. So Gene is a leading expert in high growth company culture and leadership. He's done this for decades. He's interviewed more than 530 high growth companies, CEOs of high growth companies, to understand the core principles of fast growth and how they manage their their cultures inside. He does this on his own podcast. It's called the Growth Think Tank Podcast, so you can go check that out. Um, you can find him on LinkedIn and on Instagram, but he consults these, these leaders in teams. He has worked with a dozen companies on the Inc 5000 list. He he's experienced and the idea of coaching and the idea of communication and the idea of tough conversations, which is why he is writing a book about that with his wife. So by the time you listen to this, maybe it's already out, maybe it's not. But we're going to talk about that framework here on the show. So without further ado, here we come, Gene..


[00:01:46] Awesome having you here, man. I really appreciate it.


[00:01:49] to be here, Scott..


[00:01:51] So we are going to talk about some awesome stuff today because, um, we're going to talk about tough conversations. I don't know if everybody thinks they're awesome, but I think they're awesome. And you clearly think they're awesome because you guys are writing a book on this thing, right?


[00:02:06] am me and my wife, my co-writer, co-founder of the company. Been looking at like, how do we write the next book? We've both written one and we decided to write something together. And this is one of the conversations that comes up most often inside of coaching and leadership development.


[00:02:23] is it more, how do I have the tough conversation or. Which I'm probably going to say yes. Or is it? How do I react to this conversation that was had with me?


[00:02:38] mostly the first part, right? It is. There's a there's avoidance out there and it's rampant. People are afraid to engage in these tough conversations. And we also feel like some of the books out there that have been written about this subject that I'm not throwing anyone on the bus. I think they've done really good work, but they're not actually supporting you in how to deliver that conversation. They're touching on it. But we we've built a framework that really helps people understand the flow, how to prepare for them, which is kind of make a plan as part of that that framework. And it really is about delivering them. Now. Hopefully people that read them also are open to receiving those tough conversations because it goes both ways.,


[00:03:27] it does. So let's let's let's hone in on this for just a second, because we all have to have them now. We have. You're writing this with your wife. So so I'm imagine there's some tough conversations you've had to have in a personal relationship as well as professional. And, I mean, does this framework work for both?


[00:03:50] think so. I mean, I don't think we're immune because, you know, a lot of professionals I'm an executive coach. That's my core business. And we do leadership development with mid managers and helping them become leaders. The conversations I mean, specifically with my wife, I mean, this really helped us understand each other better. I mean, we went through couples counseling at one point in time. And, you know, one of the things in there is, is listen to the other person and repeat back what they're saying as a way to let them know that you understand them. Even if you don't agree, you repeat it back. Is that is that what you're saying? It's a very simple concept that you learn in a personal life through through some hard challenges that you can bring over into professional. And so, you know, this this framework can be used for both.


[00:04:38] what I hear you saying is we should repeat back the things that we just. You see what I did there?.


[00:04:44] Did you got it right away..


[00:04:46] Okay, good. All right. So, um, talk about that then. Okay, so this framework, you're the book's coming out. If it's not out already. Right. By the time of this, this show, um, and you, you give away this framework and this idea and you talk about this framework. Introduce me to the framework. I think we've heard some different things, but I want to hear your ideas here.


[00:05:12] it's a lot to unpack in here. And I can go into specific areas if we if we want to dive into specific elements of it. We've written the first draft, we've written actually the second draft now, and we're in the editing phase, which is not fun. It is so not fun to put, you know, be questioned on is this the right word choice? And, you know, have you connected the dots and is this clear enough or and you got to cut things like, I don't know if you've been through the editing process. It's horrible.


[00:05:42] I'm starting to go through that now with with mine. So it's yeah, I.,


[00:05:45] imagine this, you do a lot of speaking because I was checking out your website, what you're up to, and you've probably done this before. Hey, I think I've got 30 minutes for this speech. I can't put every story in there and I can't put even the things I really love. So I've got to pick just the best. And that's what writing and editing is like. You can't put everything in there. You got to get it zeroed in to just the core essence. And so it's a very difficult process because we want to make the best book possible. We also aim to make something really palatable and usable. So it's we're aiming at probably 20,000 words, which is probably going to put it in the 100 page range..


[00:06:27] Okay, cool. So you're packing a lot in 100 pages. Now, let's just say 100 pages. It may sound like a lot, but it's. It's, you know, that's a that's a compressed book. When we're talking about tough conversations. And this framework you introduce in there. Right. So how do you how do you just like give us the high level so that, you know, we want to dive deeper? We can.


[00:06:54] we came up with this with clients. Like we were having it come up all the time. Like there's so many conversations out there that are needed and there's a certain elements that I use inside my coaching. One of them, I call them magic Question and this is sort of it's in the framework and I'll give you the framework in a second, but it's what's the missing conversation that hasn't happened yet. I didn't claim to write this this question. It comes from a lot of people who are supporting others and therapists and whatnot. But I have used it so many times with clients because they'll tell me about something that's not the way they expect it to be. Someone's out of alignment. And I go, Well, what's the really what's the missing conversation you haven't had yet? And they'll talk about it. And she usually surface level. The idea is to get to the real heart of it. And so little tools like that are inside. This framework is a way to get to the real conversation you have, and I can give you examples if you want, but the overall framework follows empathetic. And I'm an engineer, had to ask my wife. I'm like, How do you even spell empathetic? It's a lot of letters. It's ten different parts to this. Some are, you know, much more in depth than others. But there's ten elements to to really delivering a tough conversation. And I think you want to have, you know, almost all of them in every conversation. Some of them are not needed and types of conversations. But but I feel like you can actually stretch it and use every ten steps inside of every tough conversation..


[00:08:25] Before we get into a couple of those things, because we don't have to go through all ten. Right. I just want you to tease a few of them, though. Yeah. So give me an example of the magic question thing. I do want an example of that. I want to see how how you could use it. Let's let's frame it up.


[00:08:40] had a client of mine who went on vacation. And he had an employee that didn't do their work. He was supposed to be having fun, disconnecting and literally not checking in every day to make sure everyone's, you know, doing the work. And he comes back and he goes, not only do they not do the work, we made a promise to the client. So now we're behind. We got to make up the work. So I'm talking to him about, you know, what's the missing conversation? He goes, Well, it's about how we're going to make up the work. You know, how are they going to get the hours in? How are we going to catch up? And I said, is that really the missing conversation? He thought about it for a second. And, you know, we probed a little bit. We discussed, you know, different options. And finally he comes back and he's like, well, they didn't work while I was on vacation. Are they really committed to to being here? And all of a sudden I felt like, okay, that's the deeper conversation. That's the one that's like gets to the heart of it. It's not about how we're going to make it up, because if they're not committed, we'll never make it up. But he had the conversation and it was a little bit uncomfortable for, I think, for both of them. But they discussed it. They created a plan together. All this is in the framework. And, you know, four months later I'm talking with him again. He goes, you know, ever since that day. This person has been much more committed, much more engaged. The work is getting done. Really just things have changed. And that's really what we're looking for inside of these tough conversations is a real change in behavior and understanding. And people are aligned. And it all started with what's the real conversation? And he decided, are you committed to working here?,


[00:10:17] so what? So it's it's the surface level problem is what people are trying to address. Like why how do I get this person to do their work when I'm out of town? Yeah, you know, like. Like, totally like, this is the obvious thing I'm trying to fix. How do I get this person to work? But you're saying it's deeper, and that's what. Because what's going to happen is this guy's going to go out of town again and the guy's still not going to do his work. Yeah. So it's gonna. And he's gonna. Well, I thought we fixed this last time. But you're saying when we have the deeper conversation we're addressing the core issue, therefore alleviating symptoms from coming back up later.


[00:10:57] it makes sense. Scott, you just, you explained it really well. But here's the problem. You know this as well as I do, given the work that you do when you're emotionally attached to what's going on, you're inside the issue yourself. It's really hard to have perspective and and really understand and see it fully. We as coaches do this all the time for people. We're able to have these different perspectives and that's the value of coaching in one way is just literally getting someone to see something from a new angle. The same problem that nothing's changed about the problem. I'm just asking him to look at the deeper element of it and he's like, Oh, that's it. And that's the conversation he had. And that's where the change of behavior happens. Not in Oh, we got to make up the time.,


[00:11:43] yes, yes. Okay. So let's look at empathetic. Let's look at that and give me some of the highlights. Pick I don't know, pick three of your letters before. You don't have to think about how spelling the whole thing, you know, think. I don't know. Pick a few. Like, give us some gold.


[00:11:59] start with the hardest one, which is make a plan. So before the conversation, you should have your thoughts together. We all agree to this, right? We plan speeches that we deliver in advance to audiences. We we think about what we want to say, how we want to say it. We get it organized because it's it's it's a big moment, right, when you're addressing an audience. We all agree to that, right?.


[00:12:24] Yeah. Good.


[00:12:25] when it's a one on one person too often. Well, most people avoid them until it's too late, or it gets really to the point where you can't avoid it anymore. It's like, you know, toxic or something. And so what we ask is don't wait to that point, but but make a plan. And so we actually give you probably about a dozen questions that allow you to to look at different perspectives. Few of my favorites are, um, how do you expect this person to react inside this? So if you know someone's going to be sensitive, you're going to frame this differently than someone that might be a little bit more defensive. Or if someone's going to be direct back with you or they're going to blame someone else. You want to know that? Another question inside there is who do you need to be? To deliver this conversation. It's one of my favorite questions because I work on the deeper side of this. I'll have someone that's really frustrated about about these tough conversations. Someone's out of alignment. And after we go through the entire, you know, make a plan part of it, I will say that those that exact question, who do you need to be to deliver this? And they'll go, oh, I need to be patient. Or I need to be direct. This is the time for me to be really direct. I've been not setting clear enough expectations, and that's the reason why we're out of alignment. Or they may say I need to to just be understanding. And so getting them to presence and being intentional about who they need to be. Is what you part of that make a plan to get and deliver the right conversation the right way, the right tone, right word choice and all of that stuff. So make a plan is probably the meatier part of that ten steps because it is. It's it requires a lot to to be prepared..


[00:14:19] good. About.


[00:14:20] a plan. Who do you.


[00:14:21] to be to deliver this? So I like how you're doing this introspective out respect. Like, you know, our thing is like, who are they? How are they going to interpret this, How are they going to look at it? And, and you may be right, you may be wrong depending on whatever, but at least it's putting you in the idea of of empathy, Huh? And you're trying to go, okay, let me take myself out of this and think about them for a second, and then who do I need to be to to match that? How do I who do I need to be for them? And who would I need to be for myself to make sure that I'm upholding my own values, but also making sure that I'm getting the impact that I need?


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