How To Handle Difficult Conversations
“We have to talk…”
This is the beginning of the end for many people. The beginning of a difficult conversation with no proper technique or solution will lead to panic, anxiety, depression and even ruins of relationships.
People typically think about stopping the argument and they should. But if you don’t know the REAL cause of the person’s anger, frustration, disgust, irritation you won’t escape the argument. So, is there a way to get out of these utterly uncomfortable, disastrous – but common conversations?
Yes, but you need to be extremely careful. The sweaty palms and butterflies may backfire in a way you don’t want – a stressful conversation. So at first, we are listing the things you should avoid when having difficult conversations.
If You Want To Handle Difficult Conversations, DO NOT:
- Approach the conversation from a negative place – Always avoid going into the conversation and thinking that it is going to be difficult. Set the emotional intention and shape your tone of voice when delivering the message.
- Avoid The Conversation – You should never avoid conversations – or people. This way, you will only do harm. The longer you wait, the worse the problem is going to get – and the most respectful thing to do is confront the situation and avoid wasting your time.
- Respond With The Same Emotion – if you respond angrily to someone else’s anger, you can easily end up being seen as the aggressor yourself. This way you will only mimic the other side’s emotion and show your weak side. Go with the emotional intention set before the meeting.
- Deliver Bad News By Email – Hey, it’s called conversation and it should happen. Not by email, not with text and not on Skype. As uncomfortable as the situation may be, the best way to treat it is not with the safety of the computer screen – but confronting the individual face to face.
- Rush To Get It Over With – If you rush in a difficult conversation, you won’t be sure that your message has been received. No matter how uncomfortable the topic of discussion is or makes you feel, always ‘stay ’til the end’ and ask questions and clarification before moving on.
Now, the list of things you should do in order to handle difficult conversations.
If You Want To Handle Difficult Conversations, DO:
- Slow Down And Listen – Slowing the pace of the conversation can do wonders – especially when it comes to finding the right words and defusing the negative emotion from the counterpart. Difficult conversations can happen with colleagues, partners and customers – and the best way is to always hear what the other side has before jumping to any conclusions.
- Change Your Mindset – A conversation will be difficult, stressful and desperate as long as you label it that way. Plus, you will feel nervous and more upset about it before hand. On the other hand, if you do not stress much about a conversation and frame it positive by finding at least one positive thing about it, you will escape the negative performance feedback.
- Breathe – The more calm you are, the better things will go. Handling difficult conversations is all about being centered, focused and ready to absorb any blows that come your way. For example, if a colleague comes to you with an issue that may lead to a hard conversation – make sure to excuse yourself, get a cup of coffee and quickly collect your thoughts.
- Plan Ahead – Planning ahead is another golden rule to handling difficult conversations. However, planning is good as long as it doesn’t transform to scripting. This is mainly because of the fact that when things go off script, there is no forward motion and they can get a lot weird.
Now that you have the list of DO’s and DONT’s, handling conversations is definitely easier. In the end, you should remember that you can learn a lot from the conversations you make – and be better after every difficult one handled in a good way.
So, be constructive and always have other solutions or alternatives in mind – to ‘weaken’ the opponent’s side if it is up to you. Be ready and prepared for anything – and stay calm and completely focused if it’s not.