Thursday, July 25, 2013

4 Steps to Handle Difficult Conversations Well

What do you do when faced with a difficult conversation? Some slink away from the confrontation. Some take the opposite stance and dig their heels in for a fight. Some act like children.  The rest of us react somewhere in between.

  1. Stay neutral. Try not to add to the stressful situation with emotion, defensiveness or criticism. Think before you speak so you don’t charge the atmosphere with anger or a challenge.
  2. Ask questions. Use open-ended questions to learn more about the problem. Be curious.  There may be aspects to the situation you don’t know or haven’t fully appreciated.
  3. Talk about what’s in it for you both to find a solution. Solving the problem will benefit both sides. Keep those benefits in mind.
  4. Agree on next steps.  Discuss possible solutions and agree upon what actions you each need to take to fix the problem.
The key to handling difficult conversations well is to approach them openly, unemotionally, and with the goal of a mutually beneficial solution.

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