Two Minute Mentor - Dealing with Difficult Conversations
In this Two Minute Mentor session, I'm going to be focused on dealing with difficult conversations. If you want to hear the Comms Hero podcast mini-series episode you can take a listen here.
Now as communications professionals, we are often expected to be the people in an organisation who can find the right words, the right tone and the right time to share challenging messages with people, and to be the ones that have these difficult conversations.
But when it comes to us personally, it can feel slightly nerve racking, and our confidence can feel shaky. So conversations that we might need to have around people in our team who are perhaps not performing particularly well, or maybe raising issues with our boss that we don't know how they will react to, even personal conversations about your role or your salary can all feel like they might be very challenging. Also those conversations that we've talked about before, where you might be saying no to someone can be perceived as difficult.
But there's plenty that you can do in advance of these conversations to make sure that you feel prepared. My top tips are as follows.
Make some notes ahead of the conversation about the key points that you really want to get across. And when I say that, I mean those points that if you come away from that conversation, not having shared, you really will kick yourself over. And it's okay to take these notes into that conversation or discussion with you so you can refer to them.
You can also find somebody to practice that conversation with in advance. And if you don't feel comfortable practicing, at least just talking through possible outcomes to the conversation that you want to have can really help. Find a trusted person, maybe a colleague or a friend, or even your mentor or your coach, that you can have that conversation with because it will help to boost your confidence and prepare you for the possible responses that you might get when it comes to the real situation.
One of the other things I suggest you do is make sure that you set aside enough time to have that conversation with the person that you need to. This might mean booking timeout with them, and that's okay. You'll much prefer to have too much time to have that conversation than not enough, and end up feeling rushed.
And finally, when you're having that difficult conversation with someone, remember it's okay to step away if you feel the need to. You can just say that you appreciate the conversation so far, you would like to take the time to reflect on what's been said and have a follow up conversation at a later date. So I hope they are some useful tips when thinking about having a difficult conversation with someone.