Do you fear having difficult conversations at work?
Difficult conversations become more difficult the longer you wait. By not talking about the issue, you can also build up anxiety that will hijack your mind for hours together and make the situation seem bigger than it really is.
It is common to fear having difficult conversations at work because they can be perceived as confrontational, and the outcome can be uncertain. However, these conversations are essential for establishing clear expectations and boundaries, promoting accountability, and building trust among colleagues.
One of the reasons people avoid difficult conversations is that they may not know how to approach them effectively. It’s important to prepare for these conversations by identifying the issue, outlining the desired outcome, and practicing active listening skills. Active listening involves being present in the conversation, asking clarifying questions, and validating the other person’s perspective.
Here are a few tips for handling tough conversations at work:
Conflict avoidance naturally stems from a fear of jeopardising our ‘niceness’. However, while having challenging conversations, that should not be the priority. Instead, it is important to go into the conversation with a certain level of honesty, curiosity and consideration — seek to understand the other person’s perspective by asking thoughtful questions and asking for clarification if needed.
The most important thing to do while having a tough conversation is to listen actively and empathetically. Stay present, make eye contact, observe, don’t interrupt or plan your response while the other person is still talking. Listening and communicating effectively will not just help you resolve the current problem together but will help your relationship in the long run.
Be direct and avoid vagueness
Deal with uncomfortable situations in a frank and straightforward manner. The person on the other end is likely to sense your energy. So, if you approach the conversation feeling uncomfortable or hesitant — it will be awkward. Be confident, avoid vagueness and use specific examples to make your point. By being specific, you keep the conversation objective and clear.
Close the conversation
Usually, the goal of having such a conversation is to reach a solution. Work together from the start of the conversation to come to an understanding that you both are comfortable with. Once you agree, decide on actions to achieve that resolution. Finally, try to end the conversation on a positive note by sharing a few words of gratitude.
In conclusion, difficult conversations at work can be challenging, but they are necessary for personal and professional growth. By preparing for these conversations, practicing active listening, and approaching them with empathy and respect, you can navigate them effectively and build stronger relationships with your colleagues.