How to handle difficult conversations

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How to handle difficult conversations



This topic keeps on coming up regularly in my coaching sessions. For some people it is very difficult to handle difficult conversations. By difficult I mean, times when you are supposed to tell the truth to a direct reportee about his work, times when you have to tell the truth to your clients, times when you can’t hide behind some diplomatic words or avoid the situation anymore. These are the times you wish you were somewhere else and somebody else was doing this for you!!ID-100217746

Well, nobody said it was easy being a Leader :). But if you do want to be a Leader then you have to take this part of the job up as well. In saying so, here is what I believe can help while having those conversations.

  • Knowledge – you should have all the details with you available for people who take decisions on data. They will appreciate if you are well prepared with past data as well as future potential solutions.
  • Objectivity – Not everything is your mistake. Ensure that both parties understand what they are responsible for and how each of them have measured on those responsibilities. This is not a blame game but an objective view of the situation.
  • Humbleness – Be the first to apologise for the situation and accept where you have failed. Don’t try to push the blame downward or sideways to somebody or something else. Stand up and say you are responsible and accountable for this. This is the biggest challenge and most difficult to achieve. But has the most impact on the relationship.
  • Positivity – Always be positive about the situation. There is nothing which can not be resolved. Everybody in this relationship wants the best and by being positive, the energy can be maintained to resolve and look at the future. Learn from the past but plan for the future at all times.
  • Authenticity – Be truthful and share information!! This will always avoid heartburns and breakups because both sides are always aware of what is happening. Everybody has a choice than to rectify the situation before it goes out of hand.

These are some of the terms that come to my mind. I look forward for more suggestions from my readers. What comes up for you or what has helped you when you have faced difficult conversations?


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One Comment so far:

  1. Anshul Garg says:

    Hi Rajat,

    Nice to bump into you thru linkedin and see your blog. Congrats on doing what you like.
    In my experience, communication is dependent on interaction, what & why one is interacting, and accordingly the communication follows. From there on, the best laid principles I ever found is in “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Not so much as how one should communicate, but the basic fundamentals he has laid down, my favourites – “Others feel as important about themselves as I feel about myself” , “Regardless how right I’m, i’ll still loose”. And i guess Steve Jobs learned that the hard way too.
    Cheers Anshul

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