Leadership Series: How To Handle Difficult Conversations

Why is having difficult conversations important?

Difficult conversations are a part of life – both professionally and personally. Avoiding these conversations is not fair to anyone involved and keeps people stuck in a situation that isn’t ideal. While these conversations are often uncomfortable, they lead to positive changes.

Below are 7 tips on how to handle difficult conversations more effectively.

  1. Clarity

Be clear about your goals for the situation.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I want for myself?
  • What do I want for the other person?
  • What do I want for the relationship?
  • What do I want for the other stakeholders?

Being clear on your goals will help you make better decisions and communicate more effectively.

  1. Timing

Don’t put off having a difficult conversation. This can build resentment and cause more issues in the long run. However, it’s important to take the necessary time to think things through and craft your message in a thoughtful manner.

Read more: 5 project management tips.

  1. Preparation

Plan out the conversation, walk through potential reactions and anticipate how you’d react. The more prepared you are, the more calm and productive the conversation will be.

Learn more: What it means to be a women-owned business and WBNEC certified.

  1. Package

When you’ve got something negative to say, don’t forget to highlight the positive as well.  If you are taking something away, give something back. Think of the “bad news sandwich”.

  1. Tone

Be direct, concise, and firm, but compassionate. Be mindful and avoid including irrelevant details or “red herrings” – this could muddy the waters and confuse or upset the individuals involved.

Read more: How to delegate effectively.

  1. Reframe

Having the mindset that the conversation is going to be “difficult” may put undue pressure on the situation. Reframe it as having an honest conversation. Remember that the conversation is for the best and out of respect for all parties involved.

  1. Relax

The more relaxed you are the better you’ll be able to handle the conversation. Get a good night’s sleep, work out, do some deep breathing – whatever it is you need to do to put yourself in the right mindset.

Finally, having difficult conversations can be uncomfortable, but can lead to positive changes. By implementing these tips, you’ll feel more empowered, and confident in your ability to handle these crucial conversations in the future.

Learn more leadership and marketing tips on the Bop Blog.

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