Difficult Conversations: The Power of Listening

Difficult conversations are an inevitability of business. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to help you through a difficult conversation. We will all face these conversations many times in our personal and professional lives. While they are unavoidable, messy and hard for us to face, there are some golden rules we can follow in order to make them effective and successful.


The main component of a tough conversation isn’t talking, it’s listening. Often, we are so concerned about getting our point across that we don’t move our attention from ourselves to the other person. The power of a conversation comes fundamentally from listening. It cannot go anywhere and progress towards a solution if you aren’t actively listening.

Use the acronym WAIT: Why am I talking? This is a helpful reminder to not say anything without making sure it is concise and vital to the discussion. It also reminds you to stop talking and let the other person have their time to speak. Listening also fosters empathy in tough conversations.

Three components of effective listening:

  1. Listen to what people are saying
  2. Hear and feel the emotion
  3. Let go of your filter

When you fully listen to someone, you can better understand that person’s emotions. When you have empathy for another individual, you’ll find the conversation progresses in a stronger, deeper manner. Plus, if you feel truly heard, it will encourage you to speak even more from the heart and allow yourself to become more vulnerable. The natural human response to vulnerability is empathy. The more we can all be honest with our emotions, the better.

For a more in-depth analysis on resolving conflicts and a variety of other family business issues, please join us for the ROOTS: Anchoring Your Business course on February 16th.

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This entry was posted in Blog and tagged . Posted on January 25th, 2017 by CFBCatDePaul