Powering Through A Difficult Conversation
As much as we’d all rather hide in our offices with our phones on ‘do not disturb’, it’s best not to prolong the agony.
What do you mean you want us to cut our prices in half?
Why do you continuously shoot down my ideas before hearing me out?
How on earth is the project running that much over budget?
Why did you hire a junior external candidate over me for that position?
Just when you think you’ve hit smooth sailing, you inevitably come face to face with a conversation that you would rather avoid. These are what leadership training and communication companies have historically called difficult conversations – and for good reason.
As much as we’d all rather hide in our offices with our phones on ‘do not disturb’, it’s best not to prolong the agony. Next time you are faced with a sure-to-be onerous conversation, take a deep breath and use these excellent tips:
1. Ask questions first before sharing your option. You might get some really interesting backstory that makes your point moot.
2. Listen for what’s NOT being said (listen between the lines). Maybe Bob doesn’t hate your idea, he just hates that he wasn’t involved in the decision-making process.
3. Know your audience. Some people like immediate feedback; others like to wait a while. Some people like getting business out of the way and others like to make small talk before segueing into the hard stuff.
Finally, always remember that you have another chance. If the conversation doesn’t go well the first time, step away, change the players, try something new another time.
How do you prepare yourself for a conversation you’d rather not have?