How to Deal with Difficult Conversations
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Let’s Face it – at some point in our professional life, we are going to have to have difficult conversations within our organisation or with customers. It’s not nice, pretty sure no one likes it, but the truth is some people are better at it than others. Here are 3 tips to help keep these conversations effective and moving towards resolutions:
Before having the conversation take a minute to prepare, ask yourself what you truly want the outcome to be, what the outcome might be, where are you going to have the conversation, and what the key points you would like raised are. And then remind yourself that a conversation also allows the other person to be heard.
Word selection is really important in difficult conversations they can change the tone dramatically. Avoid using “absolutes” such as ALWAYS, EVERY TIME, NEVER…. Yes, I’ve put them in caps, because when you are in these conversations “absolutes” do sound like yelling even if you aren’t raising your voice, they put people on the defensive and make them feel they have to find an example to prove you wrong. This leads to further conflict and derails the conversation. Instead, practice using terms like, “this has been a reoccurring issue”, “we are again discussing”, and “it has been an ongoing problem”, these allow the person to acknowledge the issue.
Difficult Conversations can be stressful for both parties, so it’s essential that once the conversation has been had that the outcome is documented for both parties. File notes can be detailed and contain all the points raised and resolved. But when communicating with the other parties let’s stay focussed on moving forward, keeps the communications to them about what was decided and where to next, this allows everyone to focus on where we are going, not where we have been.