Had to have a #DIFFICULTConversation lately? with a sub-ordinate, a peer or maybe a senior….Or wait, it could have been someone at home…
I used to be the ?Queen of ❌avoiding❌ difficult conversations. My strategy was to disappear, physically if possible and if not, at least mentally.
Any conversation with involved #assertiveness, confrontation, or that I thought could be hurtful – was something I agonised ?? over for days.
So I know what we’re talking about when that question that came up – again – last week in an #EmotionalIntelligence workshop I was running
– ‘How do I manage difficult conversations‘
Over the years I’ve learnt one thing for sure – the number one cause of my stress was and is – MYSELF ✋.
More specifically – what I say to myself in my head. My BELIEFS.
And I learnt that managing difficult conversations is a skill ??. One that I simply didn’t have enough experience with – on account of all that running away.
So, little by little I’ve built the skill. And here are my tips that I hope will help you too:
TIP No. 1 – PAUSE ⏸️
Step away, bring your emotions down first. Allow yourself the time to bring your intelligence back up.
BUT put a time limit to your pause. So you may want to step away for 5 minutes, 2 hours, 1 day – not forever.
TIP No. 2 – PRIORITISE – Ask yourself what do I want NOW? ?
The clearer you are about YOUR OWN goals and priorities, the better that conversation will go for you.
When I have a t̲a̲n̲g̲i̲b̲l̲e̲ goal – that I can check for by the end of the conversation – then I am less stressed than when I don’t.
And this may be different for different conversations about the same topic with the same person/s e.g.
– in this meeting I will only state the issue (end of meeting check – did I say what I wanted to? ?)
– in this meeting, I will assert my stance (end of meeting check – did they hear what I wanted, did they argue? Argue is good because then I know they heard ?)
– in this meeting, I will push for an agreement (end of meeting check – agreement! ?)
TIP No. 3 – EMPHATISE – Step into their shoes ? – what could they be thinking and feeling?
You ???’? have to agree with them – but you do have to UNDERSTAND them.
This also helps humanise them – they stop being ‘difficult people’ and become a possible ally.
TIP No. 4 – PREPARE
Practice Practice Practice – No substitute for this one.
Practice with someone else, a buddy and supporter – if possible.
What tips would you add – that help you have difficult conversations?