How do you deal with difficult conversations at work? How do you approach these potentially career-limiting conversations with your boss, your employees, clients and even family members? asks Rizwan Ahmed CPA.
Difficult conversations are uncomfortable. We avoid them for as long as possible because it’s easier not to address difficult or uncomfortable topics. It doesn’t matter if it’s having a conversation about an unrealistic deadline, discussing the lack of communication from an employee, letting someone go or admitting that there is no budget for something; all of us can recall at least one time when we were faced with a hard conversation and put it off until later (if ever). Unfortunately, avoiding difficult conversations like this will leave others feeling frustrated and often to negative outcomes. And keep in mind that difficult conversations are bound to increase in number and intensity the higher up you go the corporate ladder.
So how do you successfully navigate these tough talks? Below are five tips to help make those difficult conversations a bit more manageable:
1. FIND A BALANCE BETWEEN SUPPORT AND DIRECTION
You want to provide support and encouragement when dealing with sensitive topics such as poor performance, lack of commitment or inadequate results; but are careful not to fall into the trap of only offering support without also providing clear direction and guidance on how they can improve their performance or behavior. If all you do is tell them that things will get better without explaining how they can make that happen, then you’re not really helping them.
2. KEEP EMOTIONS IN CHECK
It’s hard to stay calm and rational when discussing difficult topics but it’s important to try and maintain a level head says Rizwan Ahmed CPA. Doing so will help keep the conversation on track and prevent it from spiraling out of control. If you find yourself getting angry or emotional, take a few deep breaths and try to regain your composure before continuing.
No one enjoys difficult conversations, but they are a necessary part of life.
Whether you’re giving feedback or dealing with a conflict, there are some techniques that can make the experience less painful for everyone involved.
1. Prepare Ahead of Time
If you know that you need to have a difficult conversation, take some time to prepare. Think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. This will help you stay calm and collected during the discussion.
2. Stay Focused on the Issue at Hand
It can be easy to get sidetracked during a difficult conversation, but try to stay focused on the issue at hand. If you start discussing other topics, the conversation will only get more confusing and it will be harder to move forward.
3. Be Ready to Listen
It’s not always easy, but being a good listener can help smooth out any bumps in the road during a difficult conversation says Rizwan Ahmed CPA. If you don’t have anything to say at first, that’s okay—just stay quiet and take your time. Also try to keep an open mind and allow your colleague to be heard.
4. Avoid Escalating the Conversation
If you find yourself getting defensive or upset during a difficult conversation, stop for a moment before things get really heated. Bring up something else about the topic if necessary, but don’t let your feelings overtake everything else that you want to say before leaving the discussion.
5. End on a Positive Note
No one enjoys conflict, so try to end the conversation on a positive note. Thank your colleague for their time and express your hope that you can work together to resolve the issue at hand. This will help make sure that everyone leaves feeling like they’ve accomplished something.
Even the best of us find ourselves in difficult conversations from time to time explains Rizwan Ahmed CPA. By following these tips, you can make the experience less painful for both you and your colleague. And who knows? You may even learn something in the process!