Conducting a difficult conversation is quite frankly, difficult. As a result, we frequently let it fall to the bottom of our “to do” list, which only makes the situation worse (and allows our own anxiety to grow!).

Studies show that avoiding these conversations impacts productivity, morale, and retention rates, yet little is done it build the skills needed that help.

Our preferred styles and behaviors impact our skill level, but we’ve found that regardless of the leadership style, almost everyone struggles with this.

As you become a more senior leader, you spend more time having difficult conversations.
–Sheila Heen

Here are some tips that will help:

  • Avoid conducting the conversation in the midst of emotions and conflict.
  • Stay focused and identify your objective.
    • What do you want to accomplish as a result of your conversation?
    • How do you want the relationship to proceed?

Describe the behavior/situation objectively.

  • Use concrete terms and be specific about the issue you’re addressing.
  • Focus on the specific behavior, not the personality of the person.
  • Include the specific time(s), place, and frequency of the behavior.

Share the impacts of the issue (on products, services, co-workers).

  • Remain calm and deliver your message in a healthy, respectful manner.
  • Are consequences appropriate?

Expect and plan for objections/detours/obstacles.

  • Don’t get off track; restate your desired goal and expectations

Communicating in the midst of emotions and conflict requires effort.

  • Stay focused and avoid becoming combative (we know how difficult that can be!); actively listen, and respond to what is being communicated.

After you conduct your conversation remember to summarize your specific agreement, and if appropriate, schedule a follow-up session.

What kinds of conversations keep you up at night? Make conducting them a priority!

“PeopleTek’s Leadership Journey – The Gift That Keeps On Giving!”
–Radha N. Krishnan, 2015 Leadership Journey Alumnus

QwikTip and QwikCoach

QwikTips Powered by e-Coach – Develop Others!

And for those with a QwikCoach license, refresh your existing skills and acquire new skills by visiting the QwikTips library for leadership ideas and techniques.

If you don’t have QwikCoach, it’s an excellent resource for growing your leadership skills remotely that you should consider.

Learn More About QwikCoach

Help turn your leadership knowledge into leadership action!