Hard Conversations at Work: 5 Ways Not to Screw Them up
September 22, 2019
Image from https://www.inc.com/the-muse/3-templates-tackle-hard-conversations-at-work.html
Whether you’re an employee or a manager, the workplace can feel like a minefield of hard conversations. Asking for a promotion? Firing an employee? Giving feedback on poor performance? Giving a warning to two employees for an inappropriate office romance?
Even though 80% of us identify hard conversations as part of our job, few of us are trained to deal with them. At home, we get the benefit of the doubt for getting personal or even losing our temper. At work, the stakes are higher and a hard conversation is like walking on eggshells.
How do you survive a hard conversation? Here are 5 tips to follow.
1. Find a purpose
Before you have the conversation, identify your purpose. Is your purpose workplace harmony? A change in behavior? Your purpose, or desired outcome, should be specific and lead to an actionable result. For example, if someone calls you a nickname you find offensive, the actionable result would be to have them agree to stop.
2. Come up with solutions
Every constructive criticism should come with a solution, otherwise it falls on deaf ears. You can take two approaches: plan solutions beforehand or work with the other person during the hard conversation to create them.
3. Plan out the conversation
After you know your purpose, plan out the conversation. It isn’t necessary to write a script, but do note down how you want to frame the conversation and include concrete examples, instances, or even data to show how the issue has come up. This keeps the conversation fact-based, without letting our emotions rush in. Anticipate how the other person might respond so you can frame your own reaction and avoid getting emotional.
4. Be ready to listen
During your hard conversation, you should be respectful and ready to listen to the other person. In a blog post last week, we talked about how silence can help you become a more effective communicator. In hard conversations, it tells the other person you’re concerned, calm, and willing to listen. This can help smooth over ruffled feathers.
5. Practice and go for it
Like a job interview or client pitch, a hard conversation requires practice. Tell your side of the story out loud so you can keep your points in mind and iron out any potential wrinkles in what you’ll say. If it’s helpful, you can practice using our AI and get instant feedback on how effectively you’re communicating.