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The Chaotic Coffee Shop Conversation & Me

Last week I had a couple of hours free in between meetings so I went and set myself up in a coffee shop.

Then the uncomfortable shouting started.

I was sat working and noticed two men sit at the table in front of me. I was quite oblivious to them until ‘Man A’ raised his voice towards ‘Man B.’

“We don’t pay you to have personal issues, we pay you to sell!”

Man B then said, “I just want to explain what has been happening at home and why I haven’t hit my target over the last few months.

Man B’s tone of voice was notably less assertive.

Man A then barked back, “we all have personal lives, but we don’t bring them to work, so frankly I don’t want to hear.

I will say at this point that I obviously don’t know the background and what had led to this conversation, however from a mediator point of view it certainly didn’t feel right.

Man B then stated that he didn’t feel comfortable talking about it in public anymore.

To which Man A said, “I brought you here so that people at the office didn’t hear you getting told off. This is your last chance with me.”

At this point I looked around the room and there were several people having drinks trying not to look but they couldn’t help it.

Man A’s phone then rang and he answered. He said, “I’m free to speak,” stood up and left the table to go outside.

Man B was left sitting there looking slightly embarrassed. Man A came back inside a few minutes later and gave his final remark, “I have to go to a site urgently, but this isn’t over, get selling!”

He left, followed by Man B.

Something didn’t feel right

I couldn’t help wonder how they both felt leaving. I wondered if Man A had reflected on his behaviour and considered how he could have handled the situation differently. What will Man B do from here?

There was a massive power imbalance between them. They achieved nothing and with that kind of leadership approach that’s hardly surprising.

I am disappointed to think that some people think that this is an acceptable or productive way to communicate to colleagues.

In an ideal world I wanted to walk over and say, “this isn’t productive, let me help as a mediator,” but I’d never cross that boundary.

2022 vs the age of the dinosaur

The importance of protecting people’s mental health has never been more front and centre in the business world.

What I witnessed in that coffee shop felt like archaic management that should be left in the 90’s. Surely to get the best out of Man B, Man A should have had an ounce of empathy and understanding.

Listen to people. Take the time to understand the different personalities within your team to get the best out of the individuals for the overall good of the team, and the company.

How often do we think about how we will manage difficult conversations with people? Especially if you’re in a leadership position.

Whether Man B’s personal life mattered to Man A or not, at least listen and reserve your judgement until you know the full story.

Business is about people. So are your results.

Consider workplace mediation

Most factors that result in underperforming sales teams and salespeople stem from poor communication.

As a leader are you clearly communicating the culture of the business, the business’ goals, and what you expect your team to deliver?

Do you have the correct balance when it comes to power within the team, managing individuals emotions and their capabilities?

All this and more can affect team dynamics, individual performance within the team, and therefore the team’s overall performance.

Related article: How Workplace Mediation Can Improve Sales Performance

In addition to improving performance, workplace mediation can help you:

  • Retain the best talent
  • Save time, money and stress
  • Move at speed
  • Build trust/improve culture
  • Create cohesive teams
  • Protect mental health

Read more about this in detail here.

If you’re having trouble in any of these areas and want to find out more please contact us today to see how we can help you. Call 01772 954602 or email

– Kim Logan, CEO ADR Mediation & Training C.I.C

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