I am starting to have O3 with my directs, and in general (as in everyone but one direct) the process has been very very successful.

My problem is that with a very resistant direct, I can't find anything to talk about. Let me explain.

I'm taking the ropes of a department that was very mismanaged previously. I know and am well versed with its work, but right now I don't have a good grasp of what each direct is doing. With the others is rather simple because they tell me, and I can provide them with advice, guidance and tasks. But with this particular direct, who is very resistant, I'm finding it extremely difficult to connect.

My last O3 with her lasted less than 10 minutes, since she didn't want to talk about anything and I mentioned the few points I needed. I'm concerned about how this is going to play out with the rest of the group and about her attitude in particular.

Any advice?

mattpalmer's picture

The key to a full-length one-on-one is questions.  Think of all the things you might *possibly* want to talk about, and write 'em down.  Work, personal, the weather, sports, art, movies, TV, whatever.  Make them as open-ended as possible, and when the conversation flags, switch to a question that you think seems relevant.  If you're not a natural "people person" (don't worry, I'm not either) then practice in the mirror changing the topic over to them (I have).  Something like, "To completely change the topic, I was wondering what you've been watching on TV lately?".  Seriously, write that down, sit in front of a mirror, and look at yourself while saying it a dozen times or so, until you don't want to cringe at the unnatural state of your face.

The best inspiration I've gotten in this area is the "effective conversations" podcast (, which is appropriate because a good O3 *should* be a conversation, not a status report meeting or anything like that.

timrutter's picture


Cut them some slack and it will pay you back. After years of being mismanaged, they're suspicious of your intentions and have every right to be. Their experience tells them that this is not good, underhanded and a hundred and one other negative things.

Stick with it, it may take weeks but credibility and relationships are built slowly and consistently.

Matt's podcast suggestion is en excellent way of getting the conversation flowing a little better and as they tell you things, you'll have more and more to ask them about.

I think Mark's quote in the original podcasts was that when they talk about bodily fluids, you know they trust you! (And I can attest to that)