by Dr. Laura Camacho
It’s not fun bringing up the topic of difficult conversations, but just this month I’ve had two clients ask for workshops on the specifics of crafting those critical, or difficult conversations. Critical conversations are the ones where the stakes are relatively high (even if only for you) and opinions vary.
With so much texting, you can lose practice with the art of conversation. But eventually you will want to ask for a much-deserved raise, or you need to hold someone accountable. That’s time for a critical conversation.
You cannot ever control other people's reactions. But you can deliver a delicate message in a way that's easier to swallow. Blurting out something in the name of being "honest" is not always an effective communication strategy.
You can make these conversations easier (they're never easy) by building the relationship on a foundation of mutual respect and appreciation.
Use one of following openings to difficult-but-hugely-important conversations. These suggestions are far better than the traditional (and intimidating) "I need to talk to you."
Simple Openings for Difficult Conversations
1. Hey, Mr. X. You are so important to this project. There is something I'd like to talk with you about that I really think will improve our work together.
2. You know, Mrs. X, I very much appreciate your work. I'd like to discuss ________ with you, but first I want to hear what you think about it.
3. You are such the pro, Mr. X. Do you have some time to chat? I need your help with what just happened.
4. I'm so impressed with your commitment, Mrs. X. I'd like to discuss the _____. I think we're coming from different places on how best to ________.
5. I'd like so much that we're on the same team and I really want us to come to an agreement about ________. I'd like to hear your feelings on it and share my perspective as well.
In any case, remember the following steps:
- Start with appreciation
- Keep it simple
- Reference the benefits of this conversation for both parties
Laura Camacho, MBA, PhD, PMP, is an executive coach, trainer and speaker who opened Mixonian Institute in 2009 to rid the world of boring business communication. She has created innovative training programs for local and international companies, related to leadership effectiveness, excellent feedback, growth mindset and emotional intelligence. Multilingual, Dr. Camacho’s career highlights include facilitating The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (in Spanish,) being editor of the leading management newsletter in Venezuela. For 10 years she taught communication classes at ECU and College of Charleston. www.mixonian.com