Difficult conversations can lead to better relationships, higher morale and increased productivity. The important thing is to move the discussion away from conflict and toward problem solving. Here are a few key ideas to keep in mind when approaching difficult conversations:
- Maintain an “in this together” attitude
It’s important to approach conversations with a “we’re in this together” attitude. There are no winners or losers. There are no enemies or sides. We all share the same goals and work for the same team. It’s not about how “I” reach the objective; it’s about how “we” reach the objective.
- Focus on the outcome
When emotions are running high, we often get focused on the immediate situation rather than the long-term impact. We often get bogged down in details, which only increases our sense of futility. Focus on what outcome you are looking for. Instead of getting sidetracked, help the other person define what outcome they would like to see.
- Remember the facts but respect the feelings
We may all agree on the facts of a situation and still have very different emotional responses. If we deal with facts but ignore feelings, we may solve the short term problem but not fix the longer term issue. Often others simply need us to acknowledge their feelings in order to know they are valued, understood, and part of the team.
What difficult conversation do you need to have this week? How can you reframe the conversation so that it’s no longer a conflict but rather a discussion that can move your team to the next level?