How to Manage a Difficult Conversation at Work

difficult conversationRecently I was scared. I knew that there was a difficult conversation that I had to have. One that I would’ve preferred to ignore.

I was worried: what if it didn’t go well? 

How should I address the issue?

Maybe I should just forget about having the conversation all together and let it go?

But if I was going to value and respect myself I needed to have the difficult conversation.

So I prepared my points in advance. I checked in with a mentor, I got them to review my points and then I made the call.

I felt quite challenged during the conversation. Throughout the call it was easy to doubt myself. My arguments were challenged too but because I was well prepared, I was able to put my points across in the right way and without fuss.

By being assertive and not aggressive I got the outcome I was looking for and I practised having a difficult conversation that would have been easier to avoid all together.

So what can you do if you need to have a difficult conversation?

1. Get rid of your anger.

Wait until you’ve calmed down before you send your email, pick up the phone or have a face to face conversation. The old adage that you attract more flies with honey than vinegar is actually true.

2. Prepare.

What are the points you need to get across? Do they make sense and are they valid?

Stick to the facts. Review your points with someone that you trust. Can your arguments be improved?  Can you put your point across in a better way or are there things that you can add to strengthen your argument?

3. Consider the other person’s point of view

Is the person acting out because of stress, lack of information or tiredness? Have empathy and show them that you understand where they are coming from.

4. Watch your tone/body language

When you have the conversation, take out the emotion. Speak in a calm manner and keep your tone neutral. Even you are disappointed and feeling upset focus on your tone. If you are meeting face to face be aware of  your body language. Practice open body language to build engagement.

Photo credit: Depositphotos

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