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May 12, 2019

Talking About Tough Stuff at Work

Difficult conversations are hard any time, but when you need to have a tough talk with someone at work, it pays to be prepared!

  • Decide on your purpose and what you hope to accomplish with the conversation. Your objectives should be mutually beneficial and should demonstrate empathy for the other person.
  • Be objective and evaluate how you might have contributed to the situation. Have you done or said something that could have been misinterpreted?
  • Set an intention that the interaction will go well. Keep this in mind to help you stay on track and not let your emotions take charge.
  • Examine your assumptions about the other person’s intentions and avoid ascribing negative motivations to him or her. Keep in mind that if your buttons are being pushed, you may be experiencing feelings held over from something totally unrelated to the current situation.
  • Practice the conversation to yourself, using a variety of possible responses and situations. Imagine handling things with calmness and grace.

A little preparation can make the difference between a successful exchange that results in a positive outcome and one that creates hurt feelings and resentment. Your ability to have difficult conversations and talk about the tough stuff at work is a skill that will serve you both on and off the job. See my blog post Don’t Run Away from Conflict for more information.

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