How to Handle Difficult Conversations at Work Part 2

By Staff Writer

Part 2

Whether you’re telling a client the project is delayed or presiding over a troubled performance review, difficult conversations are an inevitable part of management. How do you find the right words when you are in the moment? How can you manage the exchange so that it goes as smoothly as possible?

Be compassionate

These kinds of conversations often lead to strained working relationships. So, come at sensitive topics from a place of empathy.  It might not be pleasant, but you can manage to deliver even the most difficult news in a courageous, honest and fair way.   Don’t play the victim, “I feel so bad about saying this” or “this is really hard for me to do.” Be as direct as possible, “I see that you are having a hard time managing this project, how can I help?”

Slow down and listen

Slow the pace of the conversation. Slowing your cadence and pausing before responding “gives you the chance to find the right words” and “helps to defuse negative emotions” on both sides. If you listen to what the other person is saying, you’re more likely to address the right issues and the conversation ends up being more productive!

Give something back

If you’re embarking on a conversation that will put the other person in a difficult spot ask yourself “is there something I can give back?” If, you’re laying someone off that you’ve worked with for a long time, you could say “I have written what I think is a strong recommendation for you; would you like to see it?” Proposing options shows the other person respect.

Reflect and Learn

After a difficult conversation, take time to reflect-consider what went well and what didn’t. Think about why you had certain reactions and what you might have said differently. It might also help to observe how another manager handles the same situation.

Handling a difficult conversation is not just a skill, it is a definite act of courage. Need to refresh your management techniques?

Need to refresh your management techniques? Our boot camps could be just what you looking for! 

To schedule your confidential appointment, call (402) 354-8000 or (800) 801-4182, or send an email.

Back to What's Happening