Difficult Conversations: 5 Steps to Help You Manage Them at Work and Beyond
Difficult conversations occur in every part of our lives. We can have an issue with our employer, an employee, client, friend or family member. These conversations are usually about bad news or issues. While these difficult conversations are never easy to handle, here are some steps that will make them easier for you — whether you’re an employee, an HR director, a manager or simply a friend or colleague who needs to air important matters with a peer:
- Prepare and rehearse. Prior to the conversation, know what your purpose for having this conversation is. Also know: what you want to accomplish, what you would like the outcome to be and what your attitude is and how it may influence the conversation. Sometimes, it helps to practice. Ask a friend, mentor or HR person to help you rehearse. It can help you feel more comfortable about the process, but it can also bring up issues that you hadn’t thought about.
- Your approach is key. Just as important as what you are going to say is how you say it. You want a calm atmosphere so the situation can be discussed. Keep to the topic, as you rehearsed. If the conversation goes off track, bring it back.
- Don’t be accusatory. We’ve all heard the saying that there are three side to every story — ours, your and then the truth. You want an open meeting so all the points can be discussed and everybody feels that their side of the story has been heard.
- State your position. If you are having this conversation, you have an opinion/position. Let the other person know what it is, make sure they understand your views. But remember not to diminish their opinion/position.
- Reach an outcome. Hopefully, through conversation, the situation can be explained and each party will understand what has happened. You can then identify steps to correct the situation.If you can’t resolve the issue, work out the next steps — another meeting, more inquiry, etc.
Conversations like these are necessary to resolve situations. The are a part of living and working together. Be honest and candid. Listen and respect the other party. Hopefully, even if the situation cannot be remedied, a relationship will still be there so the conversation can continue.