Having a difficult or challenging conversation at work can be a daunting prospect and easy to put off, but if you follow a few simple hints and tips you can achieve your desired outcome. What is a challenging conversation? Conversations that are potentially stressful for both parties are sensitive in nature and can involve heightened emotions.
When would I have a challenging conversation?
- As part of a process such as a capability or disciplinary.
- To discuss workplace tension or conflict.
- To address employee well-being, mental health or other personal issue.
How do I approach a challenging conversation?
- Don’t put it off! Having the conversation early on can often prevent matters escalating.
- Prepare and write a script if necessary. Have all the facts available.
- Try to anticipate likely reaction from the employee so you can plan how best to respond.
- Ask open questions, be sympathetic and empathetic.
- Be mindful of your body language – keep it open, calm and composed.
What can go wrong?
- You don’t get your message across.
- Emotions become heightened.
- The person becomes resistant or withdraws from the meeting.
Key points to remember:
- Always have your difficult conversation in an appropriate, confidential location.
- Keep the meeting balanced, and on track.
- Everyone is individual, so consider varying personalities.
- If things get heated it’s okay to pause, take a break and resume.
- Always end the meeting by clearly summarising the position and next steps
- The more challenging conversations you have, the more confident you become.