By Professor Fiona Patterson, Director, Work Psychology Group
- Be precise: If delivering a sensitive or performance related message and the conversation becomes strained, always refer back to the specific facts or objectives. Making a clear and succinct point based on facts will lead to a more successful conversation for all parties.
- Consider the effect of your communication: Steer clear of emotive language and concentrate on the issues at hand. This will increase the likelihood of your points coming across as you planned.
- Recognise emotional reactions: It is not unusual for an individual receiving a difficult message to fluctuate between different emotions or responses. Being switched on to others' feelings will enable you to unearth issues and give the individual the opportunity to discuss them and move the discussion along.
- Take a genuine, truthful and composed approach: Whilst it can be tempting to use positives to negate the effect of negatives, managing a difficult conversation with sincerity requires the avoidance of mixed messages and 'sugar-coating' feedback.
- Be open and listen: Be willing to participate in a two-way dialogue, allowing others the opportunity to contribute and reflect. This will ensure that both parties end the discussion feeling satisfied that their opinions have been heard and that they have contributed to the outcome.
- Reflect on difficult situations: Consider to what extent you are satisfied that you were able to get all of your key messages across and if not, try to identify what prevented you. Reflect on whether you learnt anything about your own approach that might affect how you undertake a similar situation again in the future.
Awkward conversations at work are the hardest to face
Research released by the Chartered Management Institute reveals that the nation finds having difficult conversations tougher at work than at home. The research shows the British public's top three tricky conversation topics are all work-related. People find it hardest to talk about pay at work (33%), followed by a colleague's inappropriate behaviour (31%) and then feedback on poor performance (30%). This compares to personal topics like sex (19%), relationship break ups (17%) and money (16%), which the UK public feels are less hard to tackle.
Below is the link to their quiz to determine what type of conversationalist you are: www.managers.org.uk/difficultconversations
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