Many managers don't like to ask this question. What if the question triggers something that I can't do?

Welcome to the learning zone! Good collaboration requires a lot of learning! Otherwise, relationships will remain superficial and fragile.

You don't have to be trained in therapy to do yourself good. If you have negative feelings, it helps enormously to talk about them with an interested person:

Source: Atlas of Emotions, p. 32

If you are afraid that this question will trigger too much, you should get yourself an emergency parachute. Those who have clarity about their competences and skills can also create clarity in such discussions - which is often experienced as helpful:

  • As a manager, it is important for me to know how my people are doing. A named problem is better than an unnamed one. (The problem exists anyway - so why not name it?
  • As a manager, I am NOT a specialist for personal problems. I don't have to be! It's much more helpful to say: "I'm not a specialist in these things. I'm happy to listen to you, but I don't feel competent to give you advice."
    Quite a few managers make the mistake of thinking that they have to radiate optimism and competence everywhere. This is harmful here: listening helps. Not advice. 
  • If the situation becomes too difficult or problematic, effective managers act in the same way as in all other areas: they organise specialist support.
  • Tips for a successful conversation Flyer from


- Stefan Heer (2022) inspired by the Allas of Emotions