Mistakes to Avoid When Having a Difficult Conversation

In 2015, Fast Company Magazine ran an article about the top six mistakes managers make when having difficult conversations. The mistakes can be made by anyone not just managers. It these mistakes are avoided, they can help the individuals involved prevent or better manage a conflict situation.

1. Approaching the conversation from a negative placeAvoid going into the conversation thinking that it’s going to be difficult. Prepare for the conversation by setting an emotional intention for the discussion. Ask what you want the person to feel. If you’re delivering negative feedback, you may want the other person to leave the conversation feeling hopeful. Setting an emotional intention will help to shape your tone and delivery.

2. Avoiding the conversation
The longer you wait, the worse [the problem] is going to get. The most respectful and productive thing to do is to confront the situation head-on and avoid wasting time.

3. Responding with the same emotion
No one likes to receive bad news, but managers can make the situation worse by mimicking employees’ emotions. Accept that they might get angry, or they might cry, but avoid getting triggered by these emotions. Be prepared for emotional responses but don’t let them throw you off balance.

4. Delivering bad news by email
Don’t retreat behind the safety of their computer screen and send out an email. Confront the individual face-to-face. E-communication can negatively affect the entire culture of the organization causing the employee to lose respect for the leader and making the leader look weak.

5. Trying to fill in the silence
A lull in the conversation can be uncomfortable. Honor the sacred pause and allow the individual to process the information they’ve been told. When you tell someone something they didn’t know, there’s always this pause [before] the emotional reaction. Allow their brain to make sense of what you’ve just told them. Take a breath, let them process, and then let them talk.

6. Rushing to get it over with
Resist the urge to convey your message, breathe a sigh of relief and say, "Okay, we’re good now, thank you." How can you be sure the message you wanted to convey has been received? No matter how difficult or uncomfortable the conversation makes you feel, avoid rushing it. Allow the receiver to respond, ask questions and get clarification before moving on.

Source: http://www.fastcompany.com/3038997/difficult-conversations/the-top-6-mistakes-managers-make-when-having-difficult-conversations

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