How To Turn A Difficult Conversation Into An Important One

By March 1, 2017Blog



“Difficult conversations tend to be those where one anticipates some form of disagreement or resistance…”

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One of the biggest fears many people have is how to approach a difficult conversation. And yet, in business, difficult conversations are inevitable from time to time.

Why do so many people find certain conversations difficult? Here are some typical answers:

  • I think they will resist what I have to say
  • I worry that I might upset or offend them
  • What if they get angry?
  • I don’t like to let people down
  • I hate confrontation
  • I feel for their situation
  • I don’t like them and would rather not have to speak to them at all
  • They might dislike me

Difficult conversations tend to be those where one anticipates some form of disagreement or resistance.

Any internal struggle you are having about how the other party may or may not respond is going to cloud your ability to be open and honest. So much so in fact, you may well be setting yourself up for a very uncomfortable meeting because your anxiety will leak out through your verbal and non-verbal language.

How might you prepare for success? VOICE might help in some situations:

Vision – Remember. If it wasn’t important, you wouldn’t need to have the conversation at all. You must be really clear about what you are going to achieve from this conversation and why the outcome is important. Share your vision with the other party in a way that makes sense to them. Make sure the vision is objective and future orientated.

Options – Use your preparation time, and your time together in the meeting to uncover any viable options. What options do you have that will deliver on the vision? What is the likely impact of those options? What is the potential impact of doing nothing?

Immovables – There may be some elements that are just not negotiable. Know what they are and make them clear to the other party (eg: Service Level Agreements must be met). Stand by your non-negotiables. Stick to the facts, be open and clear. The other party may well try to talk you around, argue with you, justify their point of view, try to convince you otherwise. Be strong, be calm, and stay resolute.

Clarity – Make sure you have clear boundaries. Know your responsibility and live up to it. At the same time, expect the other party to own their responsibility, ensuring they are adequately equipped with the training, knowledge and resources they need.

Empathy – You are responsible for your behaviour and it is important to remain calm and clear headed. If the other party becomes worried, angry, or upset, it is important to understand and address any specific concerns they have.

Turn a potentially uncomfortable and difficult conversation into an important and purposeful one using VOICE.

To find out how the EPIC approach to Leadership will help your business, click here.

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