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2nd Date Update: Bringing Levity to Tough Conversations

(Photo by Adam Jang)

Something deep and profound happened to me in 2020.

I switched off the news and started to listen to Cincinnati’s pop station, Q102, during my morning commute activities.

After nearly two decades of listening to NPR, the station’s morning show offered just what I needed during this past year: Humor, a song in my heart, plus plenty of enticing pop-culture tidbits.

I needed a break from the serious, fear-based vibe coming from most news sources these days.

Q102 hosts Jeff and Jenn provided something we've all needed this past year or so: an escape from reality.

Normally, I might judge people who listen to “News that Didn’t Make the News” instead of the actual news.

But then I wouldn’t know about the important stuff, like...

The top things that make you appear sophisticated!

Giving someone a thumbs-down is more effective in insulting people than the middle finger!

The average child can only stay out and play for 30 minutes without getting bored!

Here in Cincinnati, the morning show is known for one segment in particular: “2nd Date Update” (spelled that way on the site, BTW).

As the name implies, the show goes something like this:

“You had a great first date, it was great, you think a second one is coming…and then out of nowhere, you hear nothing! They ghosted! Nothing. But things were going SO WELL – what happened?!” (Source)

They then put both parties on the air to figure out when wrong. And some crazy reasons come to the surface.

He was leaving the dinner table to collect clean urine to sell on the internet!

She has a cat ultra-ego and purred when we kissed!

But sometimes it gets unexpectedly deep:

I didn’t realize he was outside my race before we met.

I don’t respect her career choice.

There is just something so refreshing (even if scripted) in the honesty that comes out in those moments.

Of course, all this got me thinking about HR.

The thing that is so great about “2nd Date Update” is that the hosts set up an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing the intimate details of their date... on the air, with millions of listeners.

By asking tough, probing questions, Jeff and Jenn get to the root of the issue. Sometimes, it’s a complete misunderstanding and the couple goes blissfully on a 2nd date completely paid for (of course) by the radio station.

Isn’t that HR's role in the organization?

We can provide the catalyst for the tough conversations, a third party that adds value and clarity just by being outside the situation.

Similar to the radio show, the manager nor the employee rarely admit fault (or are even aware of their own blind spots) that led to the communication breakdown.

HR asks the tough questions to get to the root of the matter so that both parties can walk away with a better understanding. Maybe they go on into employment bliss or maybe it leads to an understanding that this is a relationship that neither party wants to be in.

But you know where you stand. With your coworker. Your boss. The person who you manage.

One of my favorite Brene Brown quotes is so simple: "Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind."

HR's power does not come from having the right answers but from asking the right questions.

Our goal as leaders is to create an environment where people feel heard and understood. That starts with asking the tough questions and being prepared to hear the tough truth.

Have you asked your team for a 2nd date update?

Looking for an HR Partner to help you with all the people stuff on a fractional basis? Send me a message at

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