Having Difficult Conversations: 5 Tips

Do you dread difficult business conversations? Does anxiety prevent you from giving constructive feedback, challenging a colleague, communicating bad news or telling someone “no”? You’re not alone. It’s easy to avoid important discussions when you’re worried about navigating emotions and making matters worse.

There’s no need to delay those necessary talks – handling difficult conversations is a skill you can build.

Here are 5 tips to get you started:

  1. Be clear about the issue and your feelings. I’d like to discuss the deadline for this project. I’m very concerned that we’re going to miss the next key milestone.
  2. Explore their position. What’s your perspective? How do you see this?
  3. Listen, on a second level, to the feelings behind their words. It sounds like you’re frustrated that you’re not getting the support you need.
  4. Communicate respectfully and directly. We need to meet all the milestones in the project plan.
  5. Collaboratively problem-solve and ensure you have their commitment to take action. How can we ensure the next milestone is met? What ideas do you have? What will you do now?

Mastering these challenging exchanges will help you feel more confident under pressure, build better relationships and achieve your business goals.