We often have to engage in challenging conversations, feedback discussions or more sensitive scenarios with co-workers, friends or family. Here’s 2 important things to remember when having difficult conversations.


24/48 hours

First, it’s good to know what your standards are, what is acceptable? what’s appropriate or innapropriate? Know where the line is (your values) and when it’s been crossed, that’ll be the measure for establishing if you need to be having some honest and potentially difficult conversations. In general I have a 24/48 hour rule i.e I do what I can to have the conversation as soon as I’ve done the appropriate preparation. I’ve learned from experience that leaving an issue to fester can make a matter much more challenging to tackle and messages can lose relevance over time.

Start with the end in mind

How does it feel once you’ve successfully handle a difficult conversation? In my experience, it feels like a weight of the shoulders, you can move on, and in many cases the relationship is enhanced, although not always. It helps to remember this relief whenever we have to deal with a difficult situation, having integrity, honest and respect for yourself and others should provide you with the internal guidance you need to do the right thing.

With that in mind, doing the right thing, can, in some instances damage or end a relationship. On occasions this is inevitable, so the more comfortable you can get with this idea, the less likely you are to be walked over and you will, over time develop the understanding that conflict is healthy and very necessary in life, teams and any kind of relationship.

Lastly – conversations should be based on facts, evidence, observations and should highlight the effect of the issue or behaviour that is driving the conversation. I would also recommend suggesting proposed solutions and help to move forward where possible.

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