Duck, duck. Honk, honk.

19 Mar

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In January I attended a training seminar on effective confrontations to evaluate its content for my company.

The highlight of the two-day workshop  occurred when one of my tablemates was sharing a story with the entire group – gesturing somewhat wildly with her hands – and another tablemate stood up to get a glass of water.

In itself, that’s not that remarkable. But the way it played out, the woman talking ended one of her big gestures with her hand somehow (accidentally) cupping the other woman’s breast.

The best part is that they were so stunned at how everything had worked out, they both just froze and stared at the hand on the breast.

I was thinking, “All right! Finally – a real life situation that requires confronting! I wonder how she’ll handle it?”

The woman who was standing to get water, who was funny and reminded me of Melissa McCarthy’s character in Bridesmaids said, “Hey there. Not what I was standing up to get!”

And the other woman  said, “Now this is suddenly very awkward.”

Everyone else cracked up.

And that’s when I confirmed something I’d long suspected: Humor is a great way to defuse an awkward situation.

So the next time someone at work is under-performing and it requires a confrontation, I’m going to remember to just grab him or her inappropriately in public. Because then I’ll be able to say, “Wow, this is sure awkward,” and then, when we’re both laughing I’ll say, “Now, seriously, I really need to talk to you about X.”

And they’ll be like, “What a relief. I’m glad it’s just a performance issue.”

DISCLAIMER: I do not suggest anyone actually practice the technique I’m proposing here. And in case any HR representatives are reading my blog: Don’t worry, I know that this is not the appropriate way to handle a performance issue. I know it’s a lot more effective to simply send a heated email to the person with a performance plan attached.

AMENDED DISCLAIMER: OK. Apparently sending a performance plan via email without a discussion is NOT the best way to handle a situation effectively. I wish someone had told me that in 2001, when I once made an entire office line up by a fax machine in alphabetical order so I could fax over their performance plans to them “discreetly.”

FINAL DISCLAIMER: Apparently this training sucked because I’m now “under investigation” for my “management practices.” I’d like a refund, please. 

FOR-REAL DISCLAIMER: Now you know why I won’t accept your friend requests on Facebook, HR.

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7 Responses to “Duck, duck. Honk, honk.”

  1. Lisa March 19, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    I thought Mackeys Pub was for management discussions

    • Alison March 20, 2013 at 8:49 am #

      Because nothing says mixed message like, “Here, have a friendly pint so we can discuss your short-comings.”

  2. thesinglecell March 19, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    heh heh. You said “performance issue.” In some cases, a good grab to the crotch is EXACTLY what’s needed there.

    Also? Anecdotally? Our singular HR person is now leaving (this is the fourth one in four years) and when the GM emailed the announcement to everyone, the final line said, “For the time being, if you have any HR issues, please talk to your department head.” Am I the only person who finds this tremendously ironic slash ridiculous slash hilarious?

    • Alison March 20, 2013 at 8:49 am #

      I think your gutter-mind is the reason the HR people keep quitting. One little Beavis-like snicker and they know they’re not paid enough.

      • thesinglecell March 20, 2013 at 10:48 am #

        They get paid more than I do. And I far more often have to deal with their crap than they with mine.

  3. dianeskitchentable March 19, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

    An emailed performance plan is probably not as bad as what happened to a guy I worked with. He couldn’t log on one morning & wandering down to tech support to ask why. Tech guy checked & said “well it’s because you were fired”.

    • Alison March 20, 2013 at 8:46 am #

      AWESOME. Lean on IT to break the news to people. That’s some clever management right there.

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