If you worked with me 20 years ago we would be working in a rabbit photo lab together.
And today I want to talk to you about stinky feet in this photo lab.
For those that don’t know before digital, film and photographic images were processed in labs run by Kodak or Fuji predominantly, and these labs got hot, like really hot, in summer.
The dryers on these machines run it over 50° to dry the paper, or the film in the process of developing photos.
Now being the leader of this shop with a team of up to eight staff, meant that I needed to be able to communicate in ways that motivated people to do a good job and kept everybody’s personalities happy.
Not always an easy thing.
There was a big problem with one team member and that was her stinky feet.
This young lady wore leather shoes and no socks and in the heat of a photographic lab, the resulting odor was very strong.
This was my second store managing job, and I’d never had to tell somebody that they smelled before.
At first, I was passive about it and had a general conversation at a team meeting about hygiene smells from a customer service perspective.
But this particular girl had smelled this way for so long she couldn’t smell her own smell anymore so nothing changed.
She had no idea she even had a problem.
Most people get to a point that things become normalised, not because things are okay, but when someone is in it all the time, it doesn’t register anymore.
The rest of the team didn’t want to work with her because the smell was quite “sharp on the senses” shall we say.
I had to step up.
I had to become a stronger and a better communicator, I had to have an honest conversation with this girl.
I had massive imposter syndrome back then (didn’t realise what it was though) and I was so worried she would cry, quit, get mad at me, that I was somehow mean for speaking to her about this.
Tough conversations suck.
If they aren’t handled the right way the ongoing issues can be worse than the original problem.
Speaking 1:1 with the girl about her feet couldn’t be ignored or held off on any longer.
I had to ask her to come in early one day.
She was worried she was getting in trouble and might lose her job.
Then I started speaking.
She was embarrassed.
She went bright red, and her eyes welled up.
I felt so small but stayed calm on the outside.
I was embarrassed but it needed to be said. I said it kindly and I also had solutions that could be acted on straight away.
But the big lesson was when she said, “I had no idea” and she “wished somebody had said something sooner because by not doing so, the problem was around longer than it needed to be”.
And, I should have said it sooner.
She worked the whole day on the shop floor doing stock as she didn’t want to be in the lab section as she had to get socks and new shoes organised first.
I let her do that.
She went and took care of things and no one mentioned it again after that.
• Are you avoiding the tough conversations for fear of upsetting someone?
• Are you sacrificing your own peace of mind for a moments discomfort?
• Are people not having conversations with you?
Experience comes from time and it also comes from action.
Who do you need to be honest with today?
Are you new to coaching? This happens when you don’t have the tough conversations with clients. I get it’s because you don’t want to upset them or don’t yet have the skills to articulate changes in ways that lift people up.
When you’re new and have no experience around what to say, or how to say it, say it comfortably or in a way that’s empowering for both parties, the coaching process slows down.
Your business growth slows down and even stops completely.
With two decades experience in sales and management before starting my own business, I get it.
Tough conversations, telling people that there’s a problem or what they want isn’t working, isn’t pleasant when you have never done it before.
If you’re a new coach who is concerned about having tough conversations, putting boundaries in a business, or having to approach stinky feet or any situation that is new and to be able to do it confidently – we should talk.
Don’t wait until the situation is awkward, get help now!
Your beliefs about your own skills and credibility play a part in tough conversations, so download your free e-book today “5 Credibility Boosters for New Coaches”
Feel good about what you bring to the table so the rest flows easily.
Download your copy HERE !