If you are leading a team, here is a good tip to keep in mind during a 1 on 1 coaching conversation: you do not have to defend yourself.
Some leaders feel they have to explain exceptions (perceived or real) to rules and justify their own requests. Your team member might question, “Why should I take out the trash? I never see Johnny and Susie taking it out.”
A leader caught off-guard will start back-pedaling. “Well, I’ll talk to Johnny and Susie…” or, “It’s not Johnny’s job to take it out…” or, “Susie has back issues so it has to be you…”
A better response might look like this, “We’re not talking about Johnny’s and Susie’s behaviors right now. We’re discussing yours.”
Firm but fair. An equally good response, I think, is simply to acknowledge their disagreement and move on. “I hear you. So, you understand the need to put the trash out timely, and you have seen me demonstrate the process. How do you plan on making sure it happens as expected?”
At the end of the day, you are the one in charge and it might help to remind yourself someone put you in charge because they trust you to exercise your judgment. When you find yourself defending your own requests (assuming they are reasonable and within company guidelines) or justifying your actions to a belligerent or misguided team member, you must ask yourself who is actually doing the leading in that moment?
Your job is to coach and lead the team to success. That does not mean the team is expected to always follow you without question, but it does mean you do not always have to defend your decisions or actions with an answer. Sometimes the best defense against an employee trying to squirm away from being held accountable is simply not to defend yourself and keep the focus on their accountability.