How to Master Tough Conversations

and get the best result for all the concerned

Let’s Face It. Some Conversation Are Tough.

Most conversations are easy. We talk. We ask questions and we give answers. We exchange information. And we share ideas. They’re easy, simple and straightforward. But now for the bad news. Some conversations aren’t easy. In fact, they’re tough.

 

Some conversations are tough to think about let alone actually have. They can be tough to get started, tough to keep civil and tough to keep on track. And some are tough when it comes to getting a good outcome. In short, some conversations are difficult, frustrating and even upsetting – or at least we think they’ll be. So it’s no wonder we sometimes put them off – and sometimes for way too long.

 

But Like It Or Not, We Have To Have Them.

If we don’t have the tough conversations we need to have, and have them when we should, we’re making a big mistake. Yes, we can sweep them under the carpet for a while. And yes we can pretend everything will blow over eventually. But guess what? More often than not, the need for them doesn’t go away. In fact, the need for them usually increases and we can easily find ourselves having them when we’re least prepared and at the worst possible time.

 

So we need to have them. But more importantly, we need to handle them well. If we don’t, we can actually do more harm than good. We can even go backwards. We can: look bad; lose support; lower our morale and other people’s morale as well; damage relationships; and even damage the business. So what do we need to do?

 

To Get The Best Possible Result, We Need To Take Control Of Them.

What we need to do is Take Control of our Tough Conversations. And this is exactly what I help you do. I help you:

 

1. Know what we’re dealing with.

Differentiate between the four main types of Tough Conversations and understand why each one needs to be treated differently.  Knowing the four types is crucial but usually overlooked or not even known about.

Avoid the 3 main mistakes people make when having Tough Conversations. Sadly, these mistakes are common and so common that many in the business of helping us handle tough conversations actually make them themselves.

 

2. Take Control of the:

I.    Conditions.

We need to start by taking control of the conditions as much as is practicable, in which you’ll have the conversation. Sounds basic doesn’t it? Well yes, but there’s more to it than many realise.

 

II.   Scripts.

This is vital but it’s not hard. I have plenty of them developed for you already but we’ll work together to develop more and then tailor them and personalise them to suit your particular needs.

 

III.  Deliveries.

I say ‘deliveries’ because first you need to practice so you get the delivery right, and second because it’s not uncommon for a Tough Conversation to need to be delivered more than once.

 

3. Follow-up.

After we’ve had a Tough Conversation, we need to follow it up. Although it probably sounds pretty basic, it’s surprising how many people don’t do it. We need to follow it up to make sure, for example, agreements have been followed, decisions are implemented, we identify and deal with any unwanted side-effects or repercussions, and our emotional well-being is in check.

 

So If You, Your Colleagues Or Your Staff Have To …

 

Conduct a performance review or similar, in which you want the person to listen, and I mean really listen.  Pull someone into line and tell them to ‘lift their game’ but not alienate them.  Handle an annoying customer but at the same time, deliver great customer service.  Talk to someone about their personal hygiene.  Give someone some bad news.  Speak to a manager about an unreasonable workload or a perceived injustice.  Say no to sexual harassment.  Deal with someone who interrupts, criticises or mocks.  Lay down the law and tell someone they’re treading on thin ice.  Tell someone that you find their comments unacceptable and you want them to ‘stop’.
… then you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s a quick video with an outline of my approach to mastering tough conversations.

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