Powerful Steps to Manage Difficult Conversations
• Information Gathering – make sure you have your facts straight before you begin, know what you are going to say and why you are going to say it. Try to anticipate any questions or concerns others may have and think carefully about how you will answer questions.
• Being Assertive – once you are sure that something needs to be communicated then do so in an assertive way. Do not find yourself backing down or changing your mind mid-conversation, unless of course there is very good reason to do so.
• Being Empathetic – put yourself in the other person’s shoes and think about how they will feel about what you are telling them; how would you feel if the roles were reversed? Give others time to ask questions and make comments.
• Being Prepared to Negotiate – often a difficult situation requires a certain amount of negotiation, be prepared for this. When negotiating, aim for a win-win outcome – that is, some way in which all parties can benefit from the situation.
• Using Appropriate Verbal and Non-Verbal Language – speak clearly avoiding any jargon that other parties may not understand, give eye contact and try to sit or stand in a relaxed way. Do not use confrontational language or body language.
• Listen – when stressed we tend to listen less well, try to relax and listen carefully to the views, opinions and feelings of the other person/people. Use clarification and reflection techniques to offer feedback and demonstrate that you were listening.
• Staying Calm and Focused – communication becomes easier when we are calm, take some deep breaths and try to maintain an air of calmness, others are more likely to remain calm if you do. Keep focused on what you want to say, don’t deviate or get distracted from the reason that you are communicating.