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Critical Conversations In care

Critical conversations in care – The Wise, The Foolish & The Evil

Care business leaders more often than not do not like conflict and avoid having critical conversations.  There is a real dichotomy of a caring nature (which goes hand in hand with business leaders/managers in care) and conflict.  I have found many times that leaders would rather deploy people elsewhere in the business rather than deal with a difficult situation.

Managing people and particularly conflict is often a process that people do not enjoy as part of their role.  However, avoiding those conversations will only lead to more difficult conversations further down the line.

If you are a business owner, I’m sure you started your business because you are passionate about what you do.  What you didn’t expect is to have to manage people on a daily basis who have a different perspective on how things are, to you. Dealing with conflict is not what you signed up for. Care businesses naturally have many caring employees. People who are naturally caring are often not comfortable with conflict and this therefore is a challenge.

So what can you do?

In my experience having an easy critical conversation process is very useful.  As someone who is not comfortable with conflict myself, this has really helped me.

This is easy to implement AND very effective.  It originates from Dr Henry Cloud and is from an extract from his book Necessary Endings.  He categorises people into, The Wise, The Foolish and The Evil. This books uncovers the reality of many relationships whereby at some point that relationship has to end.  It provides many strategies for you to do this. If you would like to find out more, the link to the book is here Necessary Endings.  A summary of which is below:

The Wise Person

Most people are wise people. Human’s naturally want to get along with each other and do their best to be nice, kind people.  When you point something out to a wise person in terms of what they are doing that you’re not happy with, they say “Gosh I’m sorry, I didn’t know I was doing that” or “I didn’t mean it like that” and they adjust their behaviour. Quite often they even thank you for pointing it out.  These people see things from a similar perspective as yourself and probably have similar values and beliefs.

The Foolish Person

It is really important to understand when someone is a foolish person because they can often be disguised (initially) as wise people.  Now these can be tricky to manage.  You know a foolish person when you point something out to them, it’s never their fault. They either blame you, blame someone else, or blame the process. Recognise anyone you know?  You will have had several conversations with them and think you’ve got them to understand what you need from them but the next time you meet with them, they’ve still not done what they said they were going to do.

So, what do you do…… you stop having those conversations! You do this by saying in a calm, non-emotional tone of voice “We’ve had this conversation now several times (include dates, times etc as they can’t argue with facts). In those conversations about this issue (state dates) we agreed you would achieve (xyz), but we’re still no further forward. You have given me no choice but to give this to someone who can complete this” or “you’ve now given me no choice but to take you through a formal performance management process”.   One of two things will happen, they will either still make excuses and therefore remain foolish or will become wise and accept that they are accountable.

The Foolish person can be turned around once they’ve realised you’re not engaging with them anymore on this matter but sometimes they can’t. If they can’t be turned around you need to put them out of their misery and end the relationship. As pointed out earlier, people do not go to work to be bad at their job. If they are not performing in their role they will not be happy and some endings are necessary for you and them.  Quite often they are grateful to you for ending it for them.

The Evil Person

I think we’ve all heard about or come across those people who say “I’m going to take you down with me” as they exit the building. These people cause so much disruption to small businesses and they are toxic.  Thankfully there are only a few of these people but recognising who these are early is crucial.  There is nothing you can do about this type of person. Henry Cloud says in these instances you need Guns, Lawyers and Money, It’s going to hurt and it’s going to cost you but you need to speak through a lawyer/HR adviser and not get involved in their emotional dialogue. This is about limiting the exposure to the business as quickly as possible. Ring fence them and get them out. The rest of your team will be thankful and respect you for you dealing with this swiftly.


People are fundamental to the success of your business and sometimes you have to deal with situations that you would rather not deal with.   However, if you are brave and use the easy critical conversation in care process, you will be a better business and have happier employees.  If this is an area you would like help with then I would be happy to chat through your concerns.  Email me here or contact me on 01492 550401, or read more on my blog