Nobody looks forward to having a potentially tricky conversation. At work there may be several reasons why over the course of your career that you need to instigate a conversation where we might struggle to get our point across without feeling uncomfortable or where it is likely that the other person may take offense.
Whether you are asking for a pay rise, addressing a colleague’s poor performance or conducting a less-than-successful probationary review, it is important that you can have these conversations in a productive way – simply avoiding the matter will cause frustration and could jeopardise your career progression.
Top tips for handling difficult conversations:
Before initiating any conversation, it is important to plan out clearly what you want to say and also, what you would ideally like the outcome of that conversation to be. Depending upon its nature, you should also give consideration as to whether this needs to be a formal or informal discussion and what arrangements need to be put in place as to when and where the conversation should take place.
Think about what you actually want to say. Preparing some key bullet points and gathering evidence to illustrate your points will enable you to clearly communication to your messages and ensure that you do not forget something important. It also gives you a chance to think about the way in which you will communicate your points –the tone and language that you use will have an impact on the other person and you should always aim to demonstrate that you are looking at ways you can work together to reach a successful outcome.
Try to look at the situation from the other person’s perspective. Have they started to miss deadlines because workloads have increased? Do the lack the necessary skills to carry out a particular task and would benefit from some training? Have budgets to reward staff been cut due to a downturn in business? Whilst it may not negate the need for the conversation itself, understanding their point of view will allow you to come to a more reasonable conclusion that can both move forward from.
Learn how best to handle your emotions. Some conversations may have the potential to become quite heated or could see the other person – or yourself – become upset by what needs to be said. Try to keep focus upon the key points that need to be addressed and take your time before giving a response.
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