Updated: Jan 24
All of us encounter difficult conversations in the workplace. Whether it’s addressing an issue with a colleague, talking to your boss about a potential raise, or confronting someone about their behavior, these conversations can be stressful and intimidating.
But they don’t have to be. With the right approach and the right mindset, you can confidently handle these conversations without feeling overwhelmed or unprepared. Here’s how.
Prepare Ahead of Time
The key to handling tough conversations well is preparation—that means taking some time before the conversation to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it.
Take some time to write down your thoughts so that you can organize them in a way that makes sense when speaking aloud.
This will ensure that you stay on track during the conversation and don’t get sidetracked by emotions or lapses in logic.
It also gives you an opportunity to rehearse your lines ahead of time so that you feel more confident going into the conversation.
It’s important not to forget basic etiquette when having a difficult conversation—no matter how frustrated or angry you might feel, always treat the other person with respect.
This means using polite language even if it feels unnatural and avoiding personal attacks or put-downs.
You should also try not to interrupt them while they are speaking and practice active listening skills such as making eye contact and nodding while they talk.
This shows that you are engaged in the conversation and encourages them to open up further if needed.
Focus on Solutions
Finally, try not to dwell too much on negative emotions like anger or resentment during the conversation—instead, focus on solutions and productive ways forward for both parties involved.
Ask yourself what can be done now, rather than focusing too much on who was wrong in the past (which will likely only lead down a rabbit hole).
Doing this will help keep everyone focused on resolving any issues together rather than pointing fingers at each other which rarely solves anything in the end.
Difficult conversations at work don't have to be something we dread; by taking some time beforehand to prepare our thoughts, treating everyone with respect during the conversation, and focusing on solutions rather than blame, we can tackle these conversations head-on without feeling overwhelmed or unprepared.
With some practice and patience, soon enough these types of conversations won't seem nearly as daunting as they once did!