Learning to Deliver “Tough Love” With Respect

Learning to Deliver “Tough Love” With Respect

Dear Yogesh,

I am Nisha, working as a General Manager in an ecommerce company in Gurgaon. This year, I mentored a team member who was in a learning phase and taking on additional responsibilities. But with time, I realized her performance declined due to lack of concentration. One day, during one of our team calls, I yelled at her out of frustration, without thinking what the impact could be. Later, I realized that I had hurt her feelings, and eventually we both sat down and discussed the incident openly.

I realized the importance of Crucial Conversations and was happy that we both resolved the confusions we had. But, from the past few days, I have been worried about my behavior. Could you please help me find a way to show tough love without being rude to my colleagues and team members?



Dear Nisha,

Expressing anger and frustration is natural for all the people. But, for us as leaders, it is important to stay calm in tough situations. It is the professionalism that counts. You mentioned that you used Crucial Conversations skills to handle the situation, which is excellent, and I am glad that you are applying your learnings at your workplace. However, I would also like to introduce you to some Crucial Accountability skills that can help you save your relationships.

The entire incident depicts that there is accountability gap too. It is the gap depicted in the performance you expected and the performance you received. However, I would suggest you make decisions about your team’s performance basis the facts, not assumptions. We all have a habit to indulge ourselves in making stories that eventually result in a blame game. This is the reason why you yelled at her without knowing the facts, and somewhere damaged the relationship.

I understand that frustration is common. Yet, directly jumping to a conclusion is not good. A well-thought and fact-based conclusion can be helpful. Thus, while identifying the gap, you must ask yourself a few questions such as:

  • What is there that I can fix?
  • Does the other individual know what my expectations are?
  • Does the person know that there is a gap?

After this thought process, you can have a fruitful accountability conversation to sort out the confusion.

On the other side, venting out your frustration can be an act of realization for your teammate. But it is not necessary if they are able to understand the gap too. Thus, your last resort must be to identify the gap and clearly establish your expectations when you next interact with her.

Another problem can arise when you do not know how to communicate the gap without getting angry. Here, you need to think beyond frustration. Think:

  • What would be the consequence if the gap were closed?
  • Why the gap is creating an issue?
  • How this gap is impacting you and your peace?

So, when you realize the gap, you can better communicate it to the other people.

Sit back and think of the outcomes of “tough love.” If not, then try to focus on the tough “love” part and expect things to get easier and better for you. Assumptions are easier to make but with sensitivity and mutual understanding, problems can get resolved. Help your people close the gap and not just point it out.

Let me know how it worked.

All the best!


Yogesh Sood

This blog is an adaptation of a blog written by Emily Gregory on on July 14, 2020 https://bit.ly/3eQatIJ

Have similar questions? Submit your queries directly to Mr. Yogesh Sood at – info@vitalsmarts-india.com


Yogesh is the founder and CMD of BYLD Group. BYLD is the largest group in the South Asian region, offering value-added services in HR, Leadership, Organizational Development, Business Operations, Manpower Staffing, Technology, and Executive Coaching. He leads the board of Indian operations of Blanchard Research and Training, Door Training and Consulting, VitalSmarts (LCPL), YOMA group and Aspectum Consulting, Finland. These organisations have expertise in complete organisational development and performance enhancement solutions, including Consulting/Training/Coaching. Yogesh is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and College of Executive Coaching USA. He founded the first ICF (International Coach Federation) chapter in South Asia in 2015.



Share FeedBack