With tax season well under way, a recent VitalSmarts survey revealed that 58 percent of Americans have found themselves in a compromising conversation in which family, friends, or coworkers described using or planning to use illegal or unethical tax strategies.
According to the survey, one-fourth of survey respondents who had been in such a conversation said they weren’t sure what to say, or they generally feared the consequences of voicing their opinion.
Joseph Grenny, coauthor of the national bestseller “Crucial Confrontations” (McGraw-Hill), says when it comes to risky conversations, many people still don’t know how to speak up in a way that is helpful. They may voice their opinion, but in ways that make others defensive or angry.
“One minute we’re talking casually with a coworker and the next, we’re in the middle of a crucial conversation where we’re forced to deal with strong emotions and differing opinions,” says Grenny. “In these real-time moments we either feel ill-equipped to hold others accountable and avoid the conversation altogether, or we speak up but allow external forces to take control – resulting in a poor performance.”
Grenny says by learning a few simple skills, we can gain confidence to speak up the right way. He provides the following tips for those who may find themselves in a compromising conversation:
- Decide if and who. When you hear about unethical or illegal violations, first decide if you will speak up and then to whom. Consider how well you know the person, the severity of the violation, and the other person’s awareness of what he or she is doing. For example, if a coworker you hardly know brags about committing a felony, report the crime. On the other hand, if a friend breaks a law and is unaware of the violation, you probably want to talk to him or her directly.
- Don’t accuse, ask. Begin with a non-accusatory question like, “Are you aware that strategy might actually be illegal?” See if the other person is aware of the possible offense. Often, after you raise the issue the other person will say he or she wasn’t aware, ask for more details, and back away from the offense.
- Share your concerns. If the person says, “Of course I’m aware, but I’ll save a bundle of money!” you’re at a crossroads. Do you continue on or back off? With most friends you would probably feel comfortable explaining your concerns. Don’t lecture, but let them know you’re worried they are putting themselves and their reputation at risk. When it comes to breaking the law, try to be a friend and not an accomplice.
About VitalSmarts: An innovator in corporate training and organizational performance, VitalSmarts has two training initiatives: Crucial Conversations® and Crucial ConfrontationsTM. Each delivers a powerful set of influence tools that builds teams, enriches relationships and improves end results. The Company has two New York Times bestselling books of the same titles, Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations. VitalSmarts has helped more than 300,000 people worldwide, including leaders from 300 of the Fortune 500, realize quick, hard-hitting results in areas they care about most. www.vitalsmarts.com.
Contact: Brittney Maxfield of VitalSmarts, L.C. +1-801-724-6272