Having difficult conversations at work is something most people have to deal with and like any potential conflict, we generally avoid it if possible.
How can we deal with them better?
Preparing for the conversation is key. When we think a conversation or meeting is going to be difficult it’s because we know we’re delivering bad news of some sort and the difficulty is the other person’s reaction.
what are the facts
- Start with an objective look at what the situation is – what are the facts?
- Think about the other person’s perspectives – what does this news mean for them?
- Anticipate the questions they might have and prepare to answer them
- What’s the “gap” between their desired outcome and what you’re going to tell them?
- What are the options?
how do you feel about it?
- Consider their feelings – how might they react to the news?
- What’s your experience of dealing with them previously?
- What’s their communication style, how do they prefer to receive information?
- For instance, would it be better to email them and call to discuss once they have reviewed the facts?
- Do they like top-line data or lots of detail?
If possible work through different scenarios (best, worst, most likely) and have some options for each. Know what your preferred solution is and why.
How do you approach conflict?
Understanding what’s difficult for us about conflict and how we deal with it is useful.
- How go you approach conflict? Where are you along the continuum between Competing(“you lose I win”) to accommodating (“I lose you win”)
We can’t control how another person is going to react but we can control how we behave and be as prepared as possible. Avoiding a difficult conversation is almost always guaranteed to make it worse. Conflict can lead to a resolution, and a difficult conversation can improve a working relationship.