Focus on getting results. Restrain yourself before you know who is truly at fault, because throwing painful words at innocent people is an injustice that bleeds social rapport. Even after finding fault, assess whether the decision was actually correct. Sometimes people make the right decision that causes a problem because every decision has intrinsic risk.
Build permanent, structural solutions. If you want employees to wash their hands, it is far more effective to put up a hand-washing-rule poster in the washroom than to simply assert a forgettable verbal reminder.
Expectations, Negotiations, Agreements, Trust
Good management communicates clear expectations, negotiates fair terms, writes specific agreements, and verifies objective trust.
Factual Communication, Interpretive Spectrum, Total Preparation
Conversations get tense when one side calls the other side wrong. Being wrong is associated with making a mistake, which can affect the ego harshly and invoke defensive emotions over constructive rationality. This dynamic affects all parties of a conversation, wasting time and sending the discussion off-topic. Therefore, avoid loaded statements such as "Why didn't you send me the report yet" and instead use factual statements such as "I haven't received your report yet and I asked for it 2 hours ago". Unassuming lines of communication avoid intensifying responses such as "But I sent it to you 2 hours ago!" and instead draw useful responses such as "That's strange. I thought I sent it to you already. Might have gone to your spam or maybe I made a typo on your email address. Anyway I'll send it again right now." Factual communication is about saying what you have seen and said, with neutral confidence in your absolute observations regardless of who is truly at fault.
Sometimes it is necessary to directly lead the conversation or challenge a mistake in order to correct it. In these cases, it is important to control how the other party will hear your words. When you consider the spectrum of possible interpretations, you pick wiser words to get results. Conveying urgency with "How's the report coming along? I need it for a meeting in 30 minutes." is a fine factual statement but it can be improved. Drawing a results-oriented yes/no response is the most concise approach, such as "I need your report for a meeting in 30 minutes but I don't see it in my inbox. Is it ready and can you send it to me again right now?". The short-answer request focuses on what needs to be done and covers the already-sent case where the other party may otherwise be tempted to get defensive. The person who needs the report soon does not immediately care whether the report was already sent; they just need to download a complete report before the meeting starts, and one of the fastest ways to do that is to get it resent.
Strategic and timely reactions are critical during a professional engagement. Thus it is necessary to be calm and prepared for all lines of action that other parties may conduct, such as topic-switching, prior-agreement-breaking, loaded questions, misinterpretation, rambling, interruption, ignorance, and even violence.
Accountability, Compensation, Corrective Action
Effective partners and employees can handle criticism, admit being wrong, and think of specific procedural changes to avoid making the same mistake twice.