Finding Your Voice: Handling Tricky Conversations with Confidence and Fairness

Blog Finding Your Voice Handling Tricky Conversations with Confidence and Fairness (1)by GTM Payroll Services

Handling awkward or uncomfortable work-related conversations with self-assurance, impartiality, and positivity isn’t easy. GTM’s Agency Partner Manager, Christa Nader, who has worked as a nanny and for a nanny agency, has some practical strategies and talking points for nannies to help you make the most of your working relationship.


Conflict is Inevitable

It’s important to remember that an issue is the problem, not the other person. It’s not you versus them. It’s you and them versus the issue. Many employers are business-minded folks who work with adults – they are used to professional and direct communication where people work out conflicts, make requests, and vocalize problems, so it often bothers them when their nanny is sheepish and avoidant. We don’t have tricky conversations with parents or confront them in front of the children, but children sense our frustrations. So, above all, we need to make mature decisions that model the humanity we want them to embody as they grow. 

It’s critical to remember that you are providing a personalized, tailored service to families where you individualize your style, communication, approach, and actions to provide the best care for children and families, taking the mental load off the families. You are often working on your own here – there is no HR department to complain to, so you must handle these grievances with professionalism, poise, maturity, and fairness.


The Sandwich Method

This is the key to effective, confident, and fair communication. When there is a conflict:

    1. Make a positive opening statement. The key to a good sandwich is the bread, right? So, get things started by introducing something positive related to the issue.
    2. Explain the problem briefly and clearly. Memorize a sentence or two. This will help you to be confident, not stumble, and not go down random roads and lose the thread.
    3. Suggest a solution. Your job is to take the mental load off your family’s plate. If you continually bring them problems without thought-out ideas and solutions, you might get that dreaded “high maintenance” label or risk being fired. Come up with one or two ideas and be prepared to provide more information if they ask, such as recommending an on-call sitter agency to utilize, the cost associated with your idea, any limitations, and when your idea could be implemented.
    4. Make a positive closing statement. Close the sandwich with something positive – maybe reaffirm your strong partnership, love for the child, or joy in the position. Whatever it is, have it ready.



When to have these conversations is almost as important as the conversations themselves. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this a new issue that needs some perspective, or is this something that needs a reminder?
  • Is this important and urgent, or can it wait until a scheduled check-in?
  • At what point will this become too big an issue to ignore?

Figure out the best time to have a focused conversation to help the process go more smoothly.


A Few Reminders

What’s best isn’t always what’s easiest. If you’re putting yourself first and thinking about what is best for you long-term, quitting doesn’t always benefit you and your personal and professional growth. Before you quit and throw in the towel, you owe it to yourself to take some time and self-reflect. Only you can truly decide if there is more you can do and where the line is.

Commit to widening your perspective. It’s extremely important to approach your bosses just as you do your children: with care and understanding. You never know what someone is going through, and you must be kind and fair. Having perspective helps you not just make these conversations easier but also be a better employee.

A hard pass is ok to take. Verbal abuse, psychological abuse, physical abuse, or sexual harassment are all hard passes. Plan how you will handle it if any of these situations arise. Only you can tell where the line of harm is for your personal wellbeing. 

Christa recently presented on this topic at an INA Conference. Download a PDF of Christa’s slideshow.

GTM Payroll Services has been working with nanny agencies, families, and nannies for more than 30 years, providing the best advice, service, and value when it comes to payroll, taxes, insurance, compliance, and employee benefits.

Visit us at, or call (800) 929-9213 to learn more about our nanny payroll and tax services.

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