I’ve had a few difficult conversations so far this week. These are the types of conversations that typically are avoided, but really have to happen. The types of discussions that can make even the most seasoned negotiator squirm.
They have to happen because if they don’t, the underlying problems don’t get resolved. They fester and grow and get worse until eventually you have to deal with the much larger and more difficult problem. Sometimes confronting people and saying what must be said is the only way to move a situation forward. This is what I realized and did a few times already this week.
It might be an issue with a team-mate or employee, a child, a spouse or a friend. Regardless of who it is, when faced with these uncomfortable conversations, it helps to do the following:
- Don’t apologize for what you are saying or for confronting the person. If it isn’t your fault, you shouldn’t apologize. You need to be clear and confident with what you are doing and why before you confront the person.
- While confronting the person, go out of your way to say as little as possible and listen as much as possible.
- Once you say what must be said, do whatever you can to make the other person feel comfortable in the situation. This doesn’t mean taking them off the hook, it does mean not pushing too far or steam-rolling them. Everyone deserves respect and and a chance to be heard.
- If at all possible, make a phone call or meet face to face when confronting someone. E-mail is aweful for this.
Have you had a difficult conversation recently? Any tips to share? Please leave a comment.