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Communication & Engagement
Having Difficult Conversations Can Help Build A Better World Of Work

We’re passionate about the world of work, and how we can make it better. To help satisfy our curiosity, we’ve launched an interview series where we pick the brains of experienced leaders, business owners, managers, and individual contributors to get their thoughts on how we can collectively build better workplaces.

Join us in our next installment below as Josh Joel—Counsel at Stanton Law—shares his insights with us.

We’d love to get to know you a bit better, tell us a bit about your backstory.

I am an employment lawyer in the Atlanta area, helping startups and emerging companies resolve their people issues. After living overseas for 10 years following high school, I came home to raise my five amazing children in the Atlanta area. I am passionate about personal growth, community leadership, and helping others find practical business solutions to resolve their problems.

If we were to ask a friend to describe your personality to us, what would they say?

Stodgy lawyer on the outside; spunky, creative, and funny on the inside.

Thinking back to your career journey, what’s an interesting story that stands out? 

I went to law school after obtaining rabbinic ordination and pursuing a more altruistic life.  Since I was a non-conventional law student, there were some humorous moments along the way.

The first day of law school, I couldn’t even figure out how to get in the door since I had never done undergraduate studies in the United States. I ended up sitting outside the lecture room waiting for someone to come out so I could see how they operated the door. It was the dumbest-feeling moment of my life. It reminded me of the old Far Side cartoon showing the kid trying to push open the door that said “pull” while entering “The School for the Gifted.” Here I was, having done really well on the LSAT and ready to launch my new career, but I couldn’t get the door open. Once I figured out that all I needed to do was pull, it was a quick and easy transition leading to an excellent law school career.

I graduated at the top of the class, which opened the door to some fascinating experiences working at the Georgia Supreme Court, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and a top law firm, which paved my way to  Stanton Law, where I am building my entrepreneurial, non-conventional practice.

What’s the most impactful lesson you've learned over your career thus far?

The most impactful lesson I’ve learned in my career thus far is to be a “go-giver.” The more you show the world that you are looking out for their best interests and want to give to them, the more successful you will be.

Thanks for giving us some insight into who you are! Let’s jump into things. When you hear the phrase “build a better world of work”, what comes to mind?

You may think that an employment lawyer would jump straight to issues relating to employment law. But if an employer is already at a place where they are trying to navigate the law and legal issues, then they’ve already lost the battle. Legal disputes are expensive and everyone loses. The key to staying far away from legal issues is to make sure that you maintain a positive work environment where your employees know that you have their best interests in mind and open communication is prioritized. 

Employers who are too nice or too scared to have difficult conversations actually end up fostering a more defensive, uncomfortable, and unhealthy work environment. Thus, when things go wrong with an employee, the employee is often shocked and taken off guard. Surprised employees get angry; angry people sue. Now you have an expensive mess to clean up.

For you, what’s the main blocker you see as standing in the way of building a better world of work?

Inability to communicate well is the biggest blocker standing in the way of a better world of work. 

We live in a hyper-communicative society through our smartphones and social media, but we have lost the art of direct, healthy conversation, especially among people with whom we disagree.

having difficult conversations can help build a better world of work with josh joel quote graphic

What’s one thing within our control that we can practically do to build a better world of work today? And, how do you recommend going about it?

Developing our communication skills and refining the art of having difficult conversations is a practical way in which we can build a better world of work together. It is important to be in a mindset of personal growth when it comes to our leadership. Read books like Crucial Conversations or Difficult Conversations to learn how to properly address issues that come up at work. Take a communications course. These are just a few ways we can proactively contribute to building a better world, starting today.

Can you share one thing you’ve experienced, seen, or read about that is leading us towards a better world of work?

In my own podcast, I interview successful business leaders about the lessons they’ve learned along the way. The one thing that strikes me about every interview I do is that these individuals attribute their success not to the hard skills required to perform their job but to the “soft skills” and character development they’ve learned along the way.

True leaders are focused on growing themselves as people and they then drive that passion into their work.

I’m curious, thinking about building a better world of work, is there a company and/or leader who stands out to you as someone we should follow? If so, what are they up to?

We are blessed with many great leaders, but the one that’s made the biggest impact on me in the last two years has been Simon Sinek. His book Start With Why completely changed the way I think. Another impactful leader is Dan Sullivan and Who Not How.

How can our readers follow your work?

Readers can follow me on LinkedIn, where I post lots of helpful content. Readers can also follow my Podcast, the Been There, Do This Podcast wherever they listen to
podcasts. And, of course, www.stantonlawllc.com.

Thank you for adding your voice to People Managing People’s interview series on How to Build a Better World of Work! 

Add Your Voice To The Conversation

Join our interview series and share your ideas for how we can build a better world of work!

By Tim Reitsma

Tim is the co-founder and General Manager of People Managing People, an online publication focused on building a better world of work. He is experienced with people & culture, leadership, business strategy and operations with a focus on building great teams who are excited about their craft and their organization. With over 15 years of leadership experience, Tim has always been guided by his core values: faith, family, curiosity, and fun. He is a coach, mentor, speaker, advisor, and an active volunteer in his community. Tim loves spending time outdoors with his wife and two kids as well as mountain biking in the north shore mountains.

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