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  • Sally Brandon

Managing Difficult Conversations

It doesn't matter how many difficult conversations you have had, they dont get easier so below are 9 useful tip on how to prepare for it.

1. Don't avoid it

Difficult conversations become more difficult the longer you wait. The build up of anxiety / anticipation before the meeting can make you feel that the issue is bigger than it really is.

2. Have a purpose

What is the reason for the meeting and what do you need to get out of it. If it helps bullet point the areas you need to discuss on a piece of paper that you can refer to so nothing is missed.

3. Be confident and direct

If you are nervous about the meeting, changes are the person you are meeting with will be do and they will pick up on the energy. Again it is ok to have some noes with you to refer to so you don't forget anything.

4. Be open to the other person's perspective

Make sure you are listening. The meeting should be a discussion, so it’s important to listen to the other person’s perspective. They might tell you something that changes your opinion the situation. Listening to their perspective lets the other person know you’re acknowledging their perspective.

5. Be empathetic

Think about the other person and how they might be feeling in the meeting. If you see they’re struggling with what is being said, give them time so they can gather their thoughts. If they start to get emotional, understand how they must be feeling. To have a constructive conversation aimed at workplace conflict resolution, being mindful of the other person is always important.

6 Use “I” statements

Starting your sentence with “I” instead of “You” promotes positive communication and fosters enthusiasm to find a solution rather than sounding like blame. It’s a huge part of what differentiates constructive and critical feedback.

7. Stick to the facts

Be clear on the the facts that need to be discussed ahead of your meeting and don't get drawn in to discussing other issues if the employee raises them. You can make a note of the other issues being raised and let the employee know they will be discussed separately and restate the purpose of the current meeting.

8. Come up with a solution

The aim of the conversation is to come to an agreed solution to resolve the issues. It could be extra training, one to one support or restating expectations with a time frame to monitor if the solution is working.

9. Follow up

Once the meeting has ended you should follow up and support your employee with any changes or training they are undertaking. Keeping an open conversation will help build the working relationship.

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