Struggling to have those difficult conversations at work? These tips can help

How to have those difficult workplace conversations


Difficult conversations can arise when working in any role which has you taking an active interest in the performance of others. Whether you’re giving out negative feedback, letting someone know that they need to up their game or firing someone as a last resort, knowing how to act in those situations is key.

Follow these tips the next time you have to have a particularly difficult conversation in the workplace:

Get to the point 

It can be easy to let your neurosis get in the way and dance around a subject rather than just getting to the point. If you have to discipline an employee, chances are they will appreciate straightforwardness and wish to know how they can improve.

If you fail to be assertive enough and bookend your criticism with compliments to appease yourself, you’ll be sending out the wrong message to your employees.

Deal with issues as they arise

Conflict can be avoided if you merely say and do nothing. However, that attitude is far more likely to have a negative effect on your staff and wider workplace.

If a problem arises, airing your grievances with those involved immediately will ideally help to find a resolution to any issues in a more timely fashion.

Don’t get personal

You may find yourself in a situation in which an employee bites back at you. However, it’s imperative to remain calm and not say anything in the heat of the moment that you may regret.

If someone is particularly difficult, try to diffuse their emotions by keeping your own cool. Always remember that it’s your job to remain tough in terms of workplace performance, but you shouldn’t let any outside influences get the better of you.

If you want to further your skills surrounding what it takes to have those difficult encounters in the workplace, consider the Courageous Conversations course offered by ICML.

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