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Dealing with Difficult Conversations

We interact with a large number of people every day and in many ways;  verbal, text and email to name just a few!   It would be unrealistic to assume that each communication will be pleasant or easy.  The reality is we are going to “bump into” a few awkward topics or people at some point throughout those many communications –professional or personal.   It does not matter if you have these conversations in person or virtually,  there are things that you can do to make even the most awkward conversations go smoothly.

Here are a few helpful tools that will help you manage the conversation to achieve better results:

  • Define your frame of reference
  • Establish a Positive intent and understand what outcome may be seeking
  • Use Good Communication skills throughout the conversation
  • For extremely difficult conversations rehearse or practice the conversation:  How to get it started, how to stay focused/on-track and a couple possible solutions or outcomes
  • Ask for their opinion and input and in doing this be open to their feedback (whether it works to your favour or not).  Don’t interrupt and LISTEN for the intent of their message.  Don’t focus on the words they are saying.  After all, words only equal 7% of our communication, body language is 55% and our tone is 38% of our understood communication.  Seek to understand the REAL message
  • Be patient!  Ensure you are not rushed or have limited time to work through the conversation so that you achieve an equally acceptable solution(s)
  • When ending the discussion, thank them for their input and honesty.  Then follow up with an email or letter summarizing your agreed upon solution.

It is important to remind yourself that you have the ability to make a “difficult conversation” into something that is positive and constructive.   It depends on your attitude and mindset going into the conversation.  If you assume it will be a disaster, then know that you are unconsciously choosing that outcome.   Follow the above helpful tips and watch the awkwardness or stress melt away from the conversation.