Every day, we engage in dozens of conversations around the office. Most of these are positive and support existing relationships. Talking to our team members can help us further our work on a project or get us out of a creative rut. Despite all of these positive interactions, there will inevitably come a time when we must have a tough conversation with a boss, colleague or someone we manage. Though these discussions can seem daunting, with a little preparation you can face these difficult discussions with confidence.
Focus on the Facts
Before you have a face to face with the person who has prompted the difficult conversation, make sure you have all the facts. Run through any previous conversations you may have had with this person and make note of your own part in the matter. While it may in fact be an emotional situation, focusing on the issue at hand, then laying out potential outcomes will lead to better results.
Approach the Topic with Compassion
If the conversation seems tough to you, chances are the other party feels the same way, too. It may be helpful to imagine yourself in their shoes—how would you want someone to handle the issue at hand? Zeroing in on how you would want to be treated may ease any frustration you encounter before heading in to the conversation.
Try to end on a positive note. Mentioning where the relationship or project can go from here will give you both actionable steps you can take to improve the current situation.
Go in with an Open Mind
Setting expectations is a key part of preparing for a tough conversation. Taking the time to clear our head of expectations allows you to approach the situation with a fresh perspective. That way, when the difficult discussion happens, you can adapt to any new information you receive. Many times, the issue which led to the difficult situation has multiple solutions. Remaining open to suggestions and feedback means you will be able to recognize when a valuable idea has been shared.
Leave Them with Something Positive
Difficult conversations are even harder when you have to let a team member know they will no longer be able to participate in a project or have access to a workplace benefit they enjoy. Asking them if there is anything that could assist them to help correct the situation can ease any lingering tensions. It also ends the meeting on a positive note. Another benefit: your generosity will be remembered and will motivate them to succeed.
No matter what your leadership style is, chances are you have had to have a tough conversation somewhere along the way. Luckily, with a little compassion and an open mind, you can handle difficult talks with ease and confidence.