How to Handle Difficult Conversations
There are many benefits from learning how to have a difficult conversation.
If you know the steps to take to make progress during the conversation and develop an appropriate communication style, the conversation is likely to become a learning experience for both parties.
To achieve a positive resolution you should guide the dialog through 5 steps.
Steps to having a difficult conversation
Approaching difficult conversations
You should be in the right mindset to approach the conversation. Ideally, you'll approach the conversation with an open mind, and remain open-minded for the entire conversation. To achieve this, you should steer the conversation away from who's right or wrong, and avoid attributing blame and thinking competitively – that is, you shouldn't think you have to "win" the conversation.
You should also approach the conversation with curiosity and view the situation as an opportunity to learn. If you take a collaborative approach, you'll be more likely to avoid blaming the other person or thinking competitively. Being willing to engage in a collaborative way allows you to take time to understand the situation from all perspectives.
Empathy toward your colleague will also help progress the conversation positively. Considering your colleague's emotional state and feelings will demonstrate respect.
When approaching the conversation with this frame of mind, you help preserve the dignity of your colleague. For a successful outcome to the meeting, this frame of mind must prevail throughout the entire conversation.
Your communication style should convey that you have a positive mindset. An appropriate communication style involves a number of characteristics:
It's important to use the appropriate communication style from the very beginning. Opening with an agenda means clearly outlining the points that will be discussed and the sequence in which they'll be discussed.
Having a difficult conversation, and making it progress well, requires following a clear structure. It should also involve adopting an appropriate communication style to suit the individual and the context.
There are five steps to creating progress in a difficult conversation. First, open with an agenda. Second, invite dialog. Third, share views and perspectives to learn from each other. Fourth, look for a mutual understanding, and finally, design an action plan.
Your communication style throughout the conversation is crucial to a positive outcome. It's important that you're clear and direct, and focus on the facts. You need to be honest and fair to your colleague. Also, be assertive but tactful, and listen effectively