Making Tough Conversations Effective

Angry man pointing at young man

When was the last time you were faced with a difficult conversation? How did you handle it? Tough conversations can pop up in the office and at home but not all of us are prepared to deal with them in the most effective way. Similar to negotiations, there are some things to prepare before going into a difficult conversation and some helpful actions that you can take to make the conversation effective.

Harvard Business Review suggests…

  • Don’t avoid tough conversations. This is definitely easier said than done but it’s important to recognize that the outcome of the conversation will be better than the feeling of avoiding it. Not having the conversation causes more pain than having it.
  • Plan what you want to say, but do not write a script. If you refrain from adhering to a strict script, your mind will be more open to changing the course of the conversation. You might learn something new or gain a different perspective.
  • Be compassionate and think of the other person’s perspective. How would you feel if you were on the opposite side of the table? Do what you know is right as nice as possible.

You can also reference Open Forum’s 12 Tips before walking into a difficult conversation. We’re all human and it is important to not let these uncomfortable moments get in the way of your goals.

Another thing that helps? Forum Protocols and Emotional Intelligence can be a saving grace during tough conversations. The ability to be aware of your own emotions and the emotions of others contributes to these conversations running smoothly. Here are some EI tips to keep in mind:

  • There is magic in silence. A pause in conversation gives all parties a chance to process and re-group.
  • Everyone needs to feel heard. If you feel heard, you feel validated.
  • Be present physically, mentally and emotionally. It shows you care.
  • Listening helps to defuse any tension in the room. View the conversation from the other side to foster empathy.

If you’d like to learn more about how prepare and handle the difficult conversations in your life, join the CFBC on Thursday October 8th for Mike Robbins’ workshop. Mike is an author and emotional intelligence expert that will share simple techniques for effectively engaging in stressful dialog. You can learn more and register here. We hope to see you there!

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