Managing Difficult Conversation

by Jan 12, 2022Leadership, Personal Development0 comments

Unfortunately difficult conversations happen. When it does happen, it’s important to conduct yourself in a professional manner. The mindset to “win,” or “avoid” the conversation, is an easy trap to fall into. A study by VitalSmart says that one in four people are putting off an uncomfortable conversation for six months or more. Imagine having this uncomfortable feeling with a colleague, especially when you’re in an SME where your colleagues are limited and your interaction is high.

I want to teach you how to navigate through these conversations and come out better on the other side.

Have a Purpose in Mind

Go in with the mindset of the outcome, but remain flexible. While it’s important to have an outcome in mind, you must remain flexible to understand the other person’s experience. Remember that no one wants to be approached with a laundry list of issues. The conversation is difficult for both of you.

Listen and Empathize

It’s easy to blurt out your demands to another without consideration for their feelings. When having a difficult conversation sympathize with the other person and what it must feel like receiving this conversation from the other end. Allow room for comments and conversation about the issue and acknowledge their viewpoint.

State the Facts

Remember to state only the facts. It’s easy to point fingers and let emotions drive the conversation. State only tangible facts, and avoid statements such as “I” and “me.” By using those statements you make the conversation one-sided and closed off. Review the problem and see where it went wrong and if there’s a possible learning experience to come out of it.

Find a Solution

The outcome of the conversation should be to come to a solution. Explore solutions together, and follow up. It’s easy to feel frustration after a difficult conversation. Follow up with the other person and check-in. Don’t expect the situation to work out perfectly after the first conversation. Often, these situations take time.

“A job is not to be easy on people. Your job is to make them better. Make feedback a common occurrence, and get in the habit of addressing issues immediately as they arise.” – Steve Jobs

Make the effort to have those difficult conversations. The benefit may be worth it.


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