Just about everyone worries about difficult and challenging conversations. It can be an even more stressful feeling knowing that you need to have a tough talk with someone at work.
Sometimes the hardest part about having a difficult conversation with someone is just getting it started.
Planning and preparation can help calm down some of your apprehension and make it much more likely that it will be successful.
However, the fact of the matter is, problematic conversations are a must in business, you can’t avoid them. In fact research shows that when a supervisor avoids dealing with a difficult conversation, the entire office will pay the price…
- Increased costs due to lost work time
- Missed project deadlines
- Lack of collaboration between team members
- Decreased work productivity and workplace morale
Whether you have to deliver some bad news or give negative feedback, the thought of having a tough conversation is enough to make you feel nervous, stressed, and upset.
It doesn’t matter if it’s dealing with an employee’s performance, delivering bad news to a team, or a co-worker with whom you have barely been on speaking terms with, you need to be in the right mindset so you can make it as positive, productive and beneficial of a conversation as you can.
There are some key strategies that you can use and prepare for those times…
Have a positive mindset: Start by visualizing a positive conclusion in your head. As best you can structure it in a neutral and encouraging manner. If time allows beforehand, try calming your body and releasing anxiety, this will really help prepare you for a tough conversation.
- Plan your conversation: Preplanning your talking points is important. You don’t want to overly script it but, having some structure and order of topics will be very helpful. However, make sure you keep your words authentic so that your message is understood and accepted. Always ask the other person for their perspective so you know how your message was heard.
- Have a conversation: You want to show the other person that you are listening. Make sure you are taking time to process everything that is being said. Stop every so often to summarize what has been said and encourage the other party to share their point of view, this will ensure the conversation stays positive and productive.
At some point in your professional career having to deliver difficult news will be inevitable. How you handle it will be a significant moment in sustaining your business relationships.
Since you will not be able to avoid talking about difficult things, the right mindset and approach, will ease the tension for both parties involved. The more constructive you can make things the better.
Ultimately, you cannot control how the other participant will react, however, being well prepared and following these guidelines, will improve the chances that the conversation will have the best outcome possible!
How do you get in the proper mindset for a difficult conversation?
Dave Baney is the founder and CEO of 55 Questions, LLC and author of "The 3x5 Coach: A Practical Guide to Coaching Your Team for Greater Results and Happier People", which is now available in Paperback or a Kindle version at https://tinyurl.com/y8ecykfy