1. Label the Employee’s Emotional Reaction
When you merely label what you think your employee is feeling, you show your understanding while at the same time expressing empathy. Labeling is just naming what you observe. Don’t judge or harp on the issue. Here’s what labeling looks like.
“It sounds like you disagree with my perception of you coming across as terse.”
“It seems like you feel this expectation is unfair.”
Most employees respond to successful labeling by giving you much more detail as a way to justify their feeling. You can then take the information they hand you and have a dialogue about the real issue – their unacceptable behavior or performance.
If you don’t label and instead jump right into disciplinary action, you’re going to get resistance, so label as a way to invite dialogue and honest communication.