How to take the fear out of having a difficult conversation

Every job has its ups and downs, with tasks that you love and the tasks that you’d do anything to avoid. For a lot of leaders, one of the dreaded tasks is having a difficult conversation.

The thought of having to give someone potentially bad news can strike fear into even the most confident of leaders, and bring them out in a cold sweat. In fact, you might even go so far as to put it off, or worse, avoid it altogether hoping that it’ll just disappear and you’ll never have to deal with it again.

But here’s the thing…unfortunately, for the most part it doesn’t go away, and could even make a small thing that could have been nipped in the bud much bigger taking up more and more of your time and effort.

So, if you hate the thought of having that difficult conversation have a think about these 3 things:

1. It’s not about you

By feeling scared, nervous or worried about the conversation you’re allowing yourself to focus on entirely the wrong thing – you. The thing is…this isn’t about you, it’s about them. So, rather than think about how you’re going to handle the conversation, and how you’re going to feel, start thinking about how they’re going to feel, and what they need to hear and what they need from you, and focus on that.

2. Focus on the benefit of the meeting

Instead of thinking about the meeting itself think about why you’re having the meeting in the first place. Whatever it’s about, this is something that the other person needs to know, and as a result there’ll be a benefit to them knowing. This is the reason for the meeting, so focus on giving the other person the information they need so you can all move on.

3. Accept that you’ll never like doing them

It’s never nice to be the facilitator of a difficult conversation. But rather than spend valuable time worrying over having to do them, accept that this is one of those jobs that you’re probably never going to like and come to terms with that.  Then when the time comes, take a deep breath and focus on achieving as positive an outcome as possible.

 

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