Every day we have difficult conversations. Regardless of if you are a manager, a supervisor, or an employee, it is inevitable that among the many interactions you have in a day, you are going to be faced with difficult ones. Whether these are conversations that you have in person or virtually, there are several ways to make difficult conversations go smoothly.
The first step in effectively managing a difficult conversation, even if it happens suddenly, is to consider the potential outcomes and decide whether the conversation has enough value for you to engage in it. Before engaging in a difficult conversation, it is essential to consider the consequences of the conversation and identify what you want from the conversation. Once the conversation begins, it is crucial to be aware of your body language. This includes using appropriate facial expressions, hand gestures, posture, and tone of voice. You want your message to be clear, so it is imperative to approach the person in a professional and calm manner.
One of the most important aspects of being a strong communicator is listening. Ensure that you ask questions to show that you are engaged in the conversation and that you understand what the other person is saying. It is also important, however, to give the other person the opportunity to tell their side of the story. Whether you agree or disagree with their opinions or their version of what happened, try not to interrupt or to invalidate their feelings and experiences. After allowing the person to share their side of the story, you can tell your side of the incident. When doing this, focus on behaviours, numbers, and facts, rather then criticizing the person or what they said. Be aware of your frame of reference as well as theirs to keep your message clear.
Having difficult conversations in the workplace can be awkward and challenging. Always enter these conversations with positive intent and approach the individual in a calm and professional manner.