March 28, 2012
As leaders, entrepreneurs and business owners, we have all encountered scenarios, difficult scenarios, where the conversation with staff, partners, customers or contractors has been rough or will be rough.
Certain techniques will help in alleviating difficult conversations and pressures and get everyone back on track with meeting goals and objectives through productive business methods.
Here are some strategies and techniques in handling difficult conversations:
- Establish mutual ground rules at the beginning of the discussion; ensure there is a mechanism and a procedure to fall back on if things get off track
- Ensure there is a goal and purpose to the conversation; make the scenario valuable with an intended outcome
- Don’t make it personal – set the mutual ground rules up front and state the goal is to resolve the issue and not make it a personal attack
- Create an environment where everyone can speak freely and in an open manner
- Make sure that other parties know their feedback and discussions are valued
- Be genuine, truthful and create an environment of trust
- Hit on the positives where there are significant negatives; positive reinforcement works
- Be constructive in your conversations
- Offer solutions not barriers or roadblocks
- Think and bring to the table alternatives if the current pathway isn’t working
- As a leader, be an active listener
- As a leader, be a learner; learn from the experience
- As a leader be available, and engage parties frequently
- Raise a third-party or theoretical example if points need to be supported
- Ensure all parties have access to information, especially when it comes to rules and regulations and that line must be focused on
Extreme Difficult Conversations
Where you do have serious circumstances that require the most difficult conversations, you have the ability to speak directly and openly about inappropriate behaviours or non-performance issues. You could approach the scenario by recommending some solutions to get everyone back on track with meeting objectives. It may also be in the best interest to ask the other party what they need leadership to do. Their feedback for issue resolution is important.
Third party mediation or seeking outside sources to help resolve may also be options when the one-on-one discussions are not going anywhere. Third parties or mediation can help take the pressure off the affected parties. A third party or mediator may take neutral ground, observing both parties’ positions and offering up independent recommendations that will work.
Positive Outcomes to Difficult Conversations
The end goal needs be a positive one, with satisfaction to all parties involved. Whatever tactic you choose to handle difficult conversations, think and act systematically and strategically, with end goals in mind. It is sometimes an easier pathway to find solutions than riskier, costly pathways such as litigation.
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© 2012 Strategy Plan One