What is a difficult conversation? It could typically involve a situation in which at least two parties are engaged where (a) there are differing opinions, perceptions, needs or wants, (b) feelings and emotions run strong and (c) the consequences or stakes are significant.
Some examples are performance improvement suggestions, turning down an idea, conflict resolution between parties and so on. The difficulty arises because of differences in every person’s interpretation of a situation, emotional quotient and their attachment to their own version of the truth.
The key to having such conversations is to be direct. According to a Forbes study1, “This is not the time for feedback sandwiches or excess compliments. Both of these feedback techniques will mask the point of the conversation and lessen its impact. Difficult conversations become even more difficult when the delivery is muddled .”
Here are three broad guidelines that help in the process: