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Tips for Handling Difficult Conversations with Your Employees

  • Publish Date: Posted almost 6 years ago
  • Author: Taylor Varco

There are many reasons people avoid having difficult conversations. Whether it's because you don’t know what to say, or are afraid of hurting another's feelings... uncomfortable conversations simply are not fun. However, if the situation is having an impact on company results or team dynamics, as a leader it is your responsibility to step in.

Below are some coaching tips to help you start confronting people in a constructive way.

First thing's first: don't delay

If this conversation needs to happen, there is no point in putting off the inevitable. Delaying will only make matters worse.

Come prepared

Be sure that you fully understand your own purpose for the conversation – what is your goal? It should be something related to developing a better understanding, being more productive or resolving a specific situation. Next, organize your key points. It's best to keep these fact-based and as objective as possible. If you have specific examples, bring those to help paint the full picture and allow the person to better understand the issue.

Step into their shoes

Try to understand where the other person is coming from and what factors could be driving the situation. Would you still consider your stance the right one if you were them?

Show compassion

Wanting nothing but the best for this person is always a good place to start. Acknowledge that you know this might not be an easy conversation but want to voice your concerns and would like to know their perspective. Also, be aware of the tone of your voice. Work to remain calm, patient and interested in their point of view.

Work on 'next steps'

Find something in your conversation that you can both commit to that will improve the relationship, and then be patient. Start small and discuss the idea of developing an action plan. One action item that improves most situations is to meet on a more consistent basis. Even if you cannot solve the issue then and there, make the decision to continue the conversation and schedule a specific date to do so.