How To Have Difficult Conversations

Something that is unavoidable in business is the need to have hard conversations. These are never fun but they are very necessary. They are necessary for me as a consultant and also when I act on behalf of my clients. How they are handled that often determines the outcome.

Hard conversations have better outcomes when you manage the message. Communicating difficult information effectively comes from the way you approach the conversation. These are three key pieces to keep in mind as you navigate a conversation that you would rather not have:

Empathy

Think about what the listener needs to hear in order to be able to receive the information that you have as intended. What might they be feeling? What concerns might they have? What problem are they trying to solve and how can your message help them do so? Will they have the information they need to proceed after you finish discussing this issue?

It is really important to plan the conversation from a listener’s perspective to ensure that you are considering their needs. This caretaking is important for maintaining and preserving the relationship. It also shows that you’ve thought about how your message will impact them and that you have considered how they feel and that you care about them.

Clarity

The more clear you can be the better. Boundaries expressed need to be very clear so the listener knows exactly what they can expect. They need to know without ambiguity or what you are committing to do and what you are not able to provide service wise. When delivering a difficult message it’s important not to leave the listener wondering what will happen next.

Don’t leave it up to the imagination of your listener, clearly describe what you can and cannot do. Uncertainty can bring discomfort and the more comfortable you can help make them the better. Even if you’re not able to do exactly what they wanted, at least they will know what you can do.

Consistency

Make sure that your message is consistent. Don’t backtrack or walk back your message. You need to stand firm in your conversation and reinforce your position. It can be really hard to share things that a listener doesn’t want to hear but it’s important to commit if it’s something that’s important to you and important enough that you’re having this conversation in the first place.

You aren’t responsible for the reactions of your listener but you are responsible for how you show up. If you show up with empathy, clarity and consistency, you have a better chance of converting a difficult conversation into a favorable outcome. Taking the time to consider how your listener feels, to be clear with them and to fully commit to your plan of action portrays confidence, compassion and professionalism.

These are the principles that I take into consideration when I act on behalf of my clients. This is to protect their reputation, their interest, and to ensure ongoing relationships with suppliers, customers, and joint venture partners. My ability to communicate helps facilitate better relationships for my clients and I am proud to be able to support them in this way.

If you are looking for a way to bring clarity, empathy and consistency to your business, I am ready and willing to have difficult conversations that help your business grow. Let’s grow together.

What hard conversations have you had and how did they go? Connect with me on Facebook and let’s chat.

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