Does the thought of having difficult conversations leave you with sweaty palms? Do you have a hard time communicating during uncomfortable situations with your leader?
If you are in a service provider role, you know that at some point there will be questions, disagreements, and disruptions that you will have to address.
Today, I’m giving you tips on how I deal with these difficult conversations. I’ve noticed that many of my peers, students, and friends have a difficult time initiating these, and I consider this one of my superpowers. A lot of us are risk averse, but if that is the case, you are not going to feel like you are ready to step into a difficult situation.
“It’s not about being risky, it’s about having the confidence in yourself and understanding the leadership you already have as well as the professionalism to have this conversation.”
5 Steps to Difficult Conversations
As service providers we get into these roles, and inevitably disruption in going to happen. You have to be the leader to address this, otherwise you will feel resentment or frustration, which is very difficult to repair.
“If we don’t address the disruption, it ends up harboring bad feelings and our best work can’t be done in that feeling.”
“I see anxiety happening in relationships and it doesn’t have to be this way.”
Follow these five steps to enable yourself to have these difficult conversations.
1. Plan the Conversation
Some people are really witty, and have the ability to say what they mean in the moment, but regardless if this is true of you… you still need to plan. If you are walking into a difficult conversation, I want you to remove the emotionality and fear, and to create a plan. If you plan the conversation, you will give yourself boundaries and time.
With time you can separate your emotions from the occurrence, look at things objectively, get others opinions, and role play the conversation. Role play the situation so you have confidence going in, and so you can see how the other person responds to your approach.
2. Meet Them Where They Are
How does your leader take feedback? You have likely seen them through disappointment, failure, or personal crisis. How was it? Weave their perceived response into the fabric when you are planning that conversation.
You want this to be a two-sided conversation. You want feedback as well, because when disruptions happen, it is usually not just about one person. Create an open line of communication and know how the other person processes information. Each professional relationship will take a different approach, and the way to know which path to take relates to the way your leader processes.
3. Be Candid
You have to be true to yourself. If you are not… things don’t get cleared up. To be candid means to understand who you are working with, while being honest and direct with kindness. This is what moves these types of obstacles off the table. It’s about having a two-way conversation and deciding how to move forward as partners.
4. Bring Solutions to the Meeting
Come prepared with solutions for the problem you are addressing. This will be a higher level of conversation that doesn’t feel like an accusation. Do your research and bring some options to the table so you can advance the conversation instead of dwelling in failure mode. Elevate yourself as a leader and create buy-in from the leader about how you are going to fix this issue..
Make sure to show that you aren’t only bringing solutions, but bring the data that will help predict outcomes in the areas of delivery, financials and their team.
“When you start talking about solutions, the pain of a difficult conversation subsides.”
5. Walk Away With Clarity
You need to walk away with an understanding of next steps. You are a list maker and a fact finder, and are ready to take action on whatever it is that the leader has decided. Give them a framework of how to take action in real time. One thing that can stifle the leader on a project is a lack of clarity about a decision. If you follow this framework and come with options, you put them in a position to make a decision at a much faster pace.
Plan to create the next steps, present them before you wrap up, and give them the next 3 steps to take action on. Verbally share these with the leader, which will show a higher level of leadership and competency on your part.
Weekly Ops Activity
Identify one client that you have, reach out and identify how they deal with frustration, opportunity, disappointment, and pushback. If you don’t know them well enough, ask them:
- When was the last time someone disappointed you?
- How do you deal with rejection? What happens with them when emotionally?
- How does this make you feel?
Listening to their answer will help you to tailor a difficult conversation to fit their specific needs. Pop your answers into The Ops Insiders Facebook Group!
Join the Ops Insiders Facebook Community:
Other Ways to Connect with Me: