Tough conversations are everywhere right now – from retrenchments to salary reductions, team accountability sessions and businesses being required to adapt quickly. Leaders are required to engage differently, to lead actively and to ensure that their full team is onboard at all times.
Given the necessity of this skill, we thought we would share these techniques for Tough Conversations in the hope of making these conversations easier and more effective for you.
First, as the leader and holder of the conversation, set yourself up for success.
- Prepare for the conversation in advance. Where possible, allow the other party time to prepare too.
- Be thoughtful about timing, context, tone and audience
- Be clear and specific. Clarity ensures that you’re addressing the core issue and reach a useful outcome.
- Watch out for and recognise your tendencies to fight, flight or freeze.
- Hold true to what really matters: is being right what matters, or the relationship going forward.
- Keep your dignity, regardless. There is nothing professional about shouting or bad behaviour.
- Have the conversation on a whim.
- Be tired, hungry or in a bad mood.
- Allow yourself to get agitated. Rather stop and calm down before taking the conversation forward.
- Try to score points or gain advantage from a tough conversation.
- Attack character, gender, race, age, education etc
Second, follow a clear 5-step process for your tough conversation. This is useful, both for preparation and for during the conversation.
- State your Intention for the conversation.
- Explain the issue.
- Highlight the consequences of not making a change/finding a solution.
- Invite a response.
- Discuss, share, agree on next steps.
The quality of your conversations – tough conversations included – has an impact on every aspect of your organisation: the thinking, relationships, alignment, and team engagement. Conversations matter and we hope these tips help make the tough ones a little easier to navigate.
When tough conversations are handled correctly the entire organisation benefits. This is a skill that can be learned.
Talk to us about how to get this right for you and your people. Connect with us at email@example.com