The best possible result
Let’s be honest. Some conversations are tough to think about having, let alone actually have. They’re hard work and they can be stressful, frustrating and even upsetting.
But we need to have them. And when we have them, we want to get the best result we possibly can. And the best result is when:
1) They run smoothly.
You are what I call Diplomatically Assertive and display outstanding interpersonal communication skills. You are clear and say what needs to be said – no more, no less. You are firm, fair and reasonable.
2) You ‘look good’.
Look good? Yes. You are able to hold our head high because you did ‘the right thing’ at the right time. You had the conversation when you should have and didn’t put it off unnecessarily. You informed anyone who needed to be informed and you can justify having the conversation.
3) You look after the person’s well-being as well as our own.
You say what you need to say but you do not unnecessarily upset the person or make them angry. If they get upset or angry, you help them regain their composure. If needed, you check on their health and well-being after the conversation. And you also look after your own health and well-being.
4) The person does what you want them to do.
You have a Tough Conversation because you want the person to do something. You want them to, just for example, agree you have a point, admit they were rude, answer your question, tell you what their decision is, do something particular after the conversation (such as complete a piece of work, make amends or, perhaps in their case of your teenager, tidy their room) or to behave in a certain way from now on.
5) You mitigate any negative ramifications.
Sometimes, Tough Conversations can result in unwanted consequences. For example, they can damage your relationships or your standing, or the person could hold a grudge. The best possible result is where you foresee these possibilities and do what you can to make sure they don’t happen or, if they do happen, to lessen their impact.
How do we get Master Tough Conversations?
The obvious thing to say here is every conversation, with every person, about every issue, is different. However, there are are models, strategies and principles which apply to the lot. Anyway, in a nutshell, my approach covers these topics:
1. Types. What make them tough? How to look after yourself (and others)
2. The concept of Diplomatic Assertiveness.
3. Common mistakes and how to avoid them.
4. The four questions you need to answer.
5. The Three-Step Model. (This is where the bulk of the work takes place.)
i. Take Control of the Conditions.
2. Take Control of the Scripts.
3. Take Control of the Deliveries.
6. Always follow-up.
So if you, your colleagues or your staff have to …
…Conduct a performance review and 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; Deliver 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 you find their comments unacceptable and you want them to ‘stop’; …
… then you’ve come to the right place.
A short video
Here’s a quick video with an outline of my approach to mastering tough conversations.
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