Tired of playing the bad guy? Why not play yourself instead....?

By Karen Amos

‘I’m not scared of playing the bad guy’.

I hear this phrase so many times on my travels as a coach and I have to confess, I’ve said it myself in the past.

But let’s just unpick this for a moment. Why when we need to give negative feedback, or have a difficult conversation with someone, do we feel we’ve no option but to be the ‘Bad Guy’? Shouldn’t we just be doing what’s right? I know from my own experience that there are many reasons for saying this phrase.

Here are a couple:
1. Fear – Of what the other person might do or say, or of things getting out of control. Sometimes it’s the fear of not being liked.
2. Lack of options – Often I felt low on resources – either of potential solutions to the problem, or lack of interpersonal skills to deal with this.

The worst part of this was for me, I know I’m not a ‘Bad Guy’. I now recognise I’m a good, kind person, who likes to be fair to others and always tries to do the right thing.  This is most of us right?

This situation is a good example of where Authenticity pays dividends. What if you didn’t need to be the ‘Bad Guy’ and could instead, get the right result just by being yourself? Sounds good? Just think, less anxiety, sleeping well, knowing you did your best, increased personal responsibility for the other person and less of the ‘blame game’…. The list goes on…..

The secret is to take a coaching approach to giving feedback and difficult conversations. This approach means you’re not there to ‘fix’ the person, but to work collaboratively with them to find a workable solution. The first step is to be clear what you and they want out of the situation and to work together to find the solution.

Yes, I acknowledge there may be occasions where the person concerned refuses to accept their personal responsibility and you’ll have to deal with this accordingly, but from experience these people are in the minority.

By implementing this Authentic Leadership/coaching approach, I've found that raising issues with people more often than not, results in a positive, constructive outcome. I frequently hear examples from my clients where they've been dreading a conversation, but by implementing this approach have had surprisingly positive outcomes.  For example, people who have been placed on performance management have still thanked their manager for their support and as a result have addressed and resolved the issues raised.

No-one likes giving negative feedback and certainly no-one likes to receive it, but to know you’ve truly done your best to work with the person to find a positive solution to the problem must surely rest better with you than having had to play the ‘Bad Guy’ again.

If you'd like to find out more about our value for money in-house Managing Difficult Conversations training courses, click here:

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Tel: 07714 855757 or email: karen@bright-bird.co.uk


Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports business owners and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a down-to-earth, practical approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 

6 Top Q&A's for Managing Conflict in the Workplace

6 Top Q&A’s about Managing Conflict in the Workplace

By Karen Amos – BrightBird Coaching & Training

1 What do we mean by conflict?

Conflict at work could mean anything from two people disagreeing on how to do a small task, to major disagreements that can become very personal between managers and team members at all levels. This has a negative effect on productivity, morale and often results in high staff turn-over, at huge cost to the business or organisation. We all have our own definition of ‘conflict’ and it’s important to understand this before we start to deal with conflict ourselves.

2 Is conflict always a negative thing?

Left unaddressed, the negative impact of conflict invariably spreads and has an adverse effect on productivity and morale. High performing teams always have some element of conflict however, that’s how they get their best ideas. The key is managing this constructively. We’ll show you practical ways to harness effective communication in your team.

3 What if I just have a personality clash with someone else?

It’s not possible that everyone in a workplace would get on well all the time. Sometimes we just have to accept that we’d never really choose to work with someone if we didn’t have to. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible, but there are constructive things we can all do that will allow us to have a better quality of working life and to be more productive for the business. We’ll cover practical ways of managing this on the workshop.

4 I'm a manager, but tend to avoid conflict wherever possible.  How can I change this?

This is a really common issue. Our past experiences will influence how we behave in the present. When it comes to conflict, many people have had bad experiences with family, teachers, or poor managers in the early part of their career. Past history doesn’t have to dictate the future however and once managers are equipped with the right tools, they can start to build their own confidence in managing and pro-actively avoiding conflict in their teams. One way we can do this is by trying an ‘experiment’. By this, we mean trying out a new approach in a safe environment, where the negative consequences are limited should things go wrong. This is an excellent way for people to overcome fears and self-limiting beliefs in the workplace. We work though how to do this and more on the workshop.

5 My team are constantly in conflict - what can I do about this?

There’s rarely one reason why teams are in ongoing conflict. Some examples would be lack of communication, personality clashes, lack of clear decision-making and leadership and uncertainty within the team.

Whilst it doesn’t always appear to be the case, there are simple things you can do to address all of these that will start to have an immediate positive impact, both on your managers and staff at all levels. It’s really important to build a culture of personal responsibility within organisations – the success of the organisation is everyone’s business. The coaching approach in our training shows you how you can implement these tools quickly and effectively within your business or organisation.

6 What will I gain out of this training workshop?

You will have opportunity to build skills and confidence to manage conflict in the workplace, with both individuals and teams.   The workshop will enable you to develop your own personal ‘toolkit’ to deal with difficult situations in the workplace in a practical way and show you how to generate positive outcomes and build personal and collective responsibility.

Date of next workshop: Thurs 30th January 2020

Click here for more details and to book