Tips for Having Difficult Conversations
Difficult conversations are never easy, but a little preparation can go a long way in keeping you focused so that you achieve your desired outcome. Follow these tips to set yourself up for success and avoid getting derailed.
Prepare: Identify the conversation's purpose and who needs to be present. Develop a concise agenda that sticks to the conversation's objectives. Anticipate being thrown curveballs and determine how you are going to get the conversation back on track.
Pick the Right Time & Place: Limit attendees to those who are going to add value to the dialogue. Coordinate ample time that works for all participants, factoring in the potential lingering effects of an emotional discussion. Identify a private location that will have minimal (if any) distractions.
Conduct the Meeting: Start and end the meeting on time. Demonstrate active listening by maintaining eye contact and confirming an understanding of all perspectives. Be direct and specific about your concerns. Communicate the concern's impact. Avoid making anyone feel personally attacked.
Wrap it Up: Identify solutions. Communicate expectations for change and specify the timeline for follow-up. Ensure that everyone feels heard. Document the conversation so that action items and grievances can be followed up on.
It's important to have difficult conversations in a timely matter in order to foster growth and resolve issues. By preparing, listening, and offering constructive feedback, you can minimize some of the stress that these types of interactions often incite.