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You One-on-Ones Should Be Awkward

November 4th, 2016
meetingFor your next one-on-one meeting, make it awkward.

Sounds crazy doesn't it? Most of us -- boss, employee, colleague -- make an effort to avoid awkward topics, which is exactly the point, says Mark Rabin, a VP at Facebook. When we do that, we waste the potential of the face-to-face meeting. Instead of talking about the tough stuff, we skirt around it or don't discuss it at all.

"You’re not talking about your challenges  —  how you’re a little burned out and started daydreaming about other jobs and why. Or that you’re scared about not making progress on a growth area, whether because it seems a bit B.S. or just because you don’t know how. You’re not confessing that you have to plan for an hour for each of these 1:1s and be super careful not to say something wrong," Rabin says in a post on Medium.

Not only do we avoid those subjects, we also don't say how that "Atta girl" made us feel great for the rest of the week.

Stop it, says Rabin. Get over the dread we have of raising difficult -- awkward -- topics.

Not every minute of these meetings should be given over to the awkward, but "you should have enough awkward in you to use up a chunk of each meeting. This is what solves problems that otherwise go unsolved. It breaks the cycle of repeated issues or an impasse. It lets you be you and let down your guard. It builds trust and relationships. It creates growth for both of you."

How do you do this without making the awkward all one-sided? Rabin has two rules:
  1. Don't talk about anything you can discuss in the open. If it's safe enough to be said in public, say it there. Don't waste your one-on-one.
  2. Commit to raising one awkward thing every meeting and, in advance, get the other person to agree. That way, its safer, and both of you commit to being awkward.

Need help deciding how to be awkward? Rabin has a list of suggestions. Check them out before you start.

"Awkwardness is hard at first, but it really does get easier. As with anything, the key is slightly uncomfortable practice. But, there’s something that makes that practice easier: whenever you succeed getting something awkward out and survive, it creates a huge feeling of satisfaction and relief. It’s deeply positive to have another person hear you and understand you better."

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