Dealing with Difficult Conversations at Work: Effective Strategies for Resolving Conflicts and Building Relationships.
The ability to express an idea well or conduct a conversation is essential to stand out in a professional environment. But how do you deal with this need in practice? Everyone who works in an organization knows what a distinctive skill communication is.
What we’ll see in this article
Difficult conversations in the workplace
It’s inevitable that sooner or later you’ll have to deal with difficult conversations in a professional environment. Postponing the situation often has more adverse consequences than facing the situation calmly.
One of the fundamental pillars of a good relationship between leader and subordinates is transparency. Therefore, if a subject is already being talked about in the corridors, the best thing to do is to have a conversation about it, either privately or in a group.
Tackling difficult issues head-on is fundamental to great leadership development. Those who run away from this usually end up stagnating and not developing in their leadership.
Empathy at work: the master key to relationships
Empathy at work is one of the most powerful tools available to us as human beings. This allows us to connect with people on an emotional level, helping us to build stronger bonds with those around us.
Empathy is shown directly through good communication and is one of the most important aspects of life. We use it every day to do things, from ordering food to chatting with friends. However, many people struggle to communicate effectively. If you want to be able to build relationships with others, you must first master the art of empathy.
How to have a difficult conversation?
Difficult issues involve many points and aim to develop the person and provide a clear solution. As a leader, you need to know how to deal with difficult situations.
You can talk about anything, but there are certain things you can only talk about in certain situations. For example, you’re not allowed to make small talk at work, because you’d be disrespecting others.
- Don’t be afraid to broach the subject;
- Study and ask your mentors for their opinions on how to deal with the situation;
- Look for words of empathy;
- Offer clear, objective and gentle communication;
- Create the right time and place;
- Take someone with you if necessary;
- Ask and listen calmly;
- Don’t interrupt the other person;
- Listen without judging and without accusing internally in your heart;
- Ask more questions and offer sincere help.
Fix communication problems
To communicate effectively with others, you need to understand why they behave the way they do. This requires the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It also means being able to identify with their emotions and feelings.
The first step to having difficult conversations is to improve your communication skills and recognize that there is a problem. If you’re constantly arguing with people, you may be having problems communicating effectively.
You may feel frustrated because you don’t think you’re getting your point across. Or maybe you’re afraid that if you try to talk to someone, they won’t listen to you.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to realize that you’re having trouble communicating. Once you recognize that you have a problem, you can take steps to correct it.
What characterizes a difficult conversation?
A difficult conversation has some peculiar characteristics, because you have to take precautions that you don’t have to take in other types of conversations, don’t you? Let’s take a look at some of the likely characteristics of a difficult conversation:
- The conversation is difficult because the other person has a belligerent tone;
- It’s difficult because the subject is difficult and delicate;
- The emotional state of the person or group may be shaken at the moment;
- It involves personal or organizational values;
- It involves questions of health or death;
- It will be about vanity or moral issues;
- It involves layoffs;
- It involves the closure of the company’s activities;
- It involves intrigue, slander and even physical fights;
- It involves racism or contempt for others;
- It involves violating company rules or the law.
We’re not asking about employee performance here, as this is a mundane task for a leader and shouldn’t be considered complex in any way.
How to get into sensitive subjects?
Sensitive matters are matters that involve people and things that are important to you. You need to know how to deal with these issues.
If you’re trying to become a good leader, it’s very important to know the rules of the game.
Knowing the main points of view on the most sensitive human issues at work is fundamental to successfully resolving conflicts in teams.
A sensitive issue at work is one that involves people and objects that are important to you, for example, your colleagues. It’s important to know how to deal with situations through clear steps.
Tips for dealing with sensitive issues
- Make a list of the issues to be dealt with;
- Don’t judge situations or motives;
- Get ready to listen;
- Make it clear that you want to understand the reasons for the conversation;
- Ask how you can help to resolve the issue;
- Be committed to what has been discussed;
- Be secretive and careful with people’s hearts, avoiding intrigue.
How to speak without accusing?
In difficult conversations, we rarely manage to speak without accusing the other person or being harsher on the points we believe in, do we?
However, it’s more profitable to keep the dialog open than to close the channel, believe me!
Let’s take a look at some topics so as not to close the conversation filter and the lack of dialog at work.
Tips for talking without fighting
- Don’t make value judgments without hearing all the points in the conversation;
- Just ask what happened and what the reasons were;
- Ask how this can be corrected;
- Give options;
- If necessary, schedule another day for the conversation;
- Make yourself available to help;
- Confirm that the issue has been resolved
They may be simple points, but getting to them requires a lot of strength and motivation on your part so that everything really works out, and I’m sure that as our reader, you’ll get there!
Compassion: the secret to making people listen
To communicate effectively with others, we need to understand what motivates them. This includes knowing what makes them feel good and what makes them feel bad.
We also need to understand why they behave this way. We live in a world where people often feel misunderstood, ignored and undervalued.
We need to listen to others
When we stop listening to each other, we miss opportunities to connect and build relationships. As a result, we end up feeling isolated and alone. Communication is one of the most important aspects of life.
We use it every day to get things done, connect with people and express ourselves. However, there are times when we struggle to communicate effectively with others.
Sometimes we feel frustrated because we don’t think we’re being listened to. Other times, we feel misunderstood or ignored.
And sometimes, we simply want to know what someone thinks about something.
This can be solved simply by learning to be a good listener, without accusations, with affection and a true sense of wanting to help and learn.
Take the test to see if you really are Good listener!
Doubts about tackling difficult subjects
The main question is: how do you adopt an appropriate tone for this type of conversation? What is the best approach and posture in this situation? Is it better to rehearse beforehand or let the conversation flow more naturally?
The answers aren’t simple, and there isn’t necessarily just one possible answer. It will depend a lot on the manager’s leadership style, on certain characteristics of the company, on understanding the maturity of the team.
The crucial thing is that the message is transmitted clearly between the interlocutor and the receiver. There should also be room to clarify any doubts or questions that arise. That’s why it’s best to think about the topic of the conversation and come up with a suitable strategy.
How to take difficult conversations more lightly
It’s natural for these moments to produce expectations, anxieties, nervous reactions and stress. Especially on the part of those who will be receiving the message. It is therefore important that the interlocutor adopts a friendly tone.
Keeping calm and adopting a gentle tone during the conversation can be an interesting solution to ease the natural tension. The difficulties will be exposed, but we must maintain a constructive tone when presenting the facts.
The most difficult conversations can be a great opportunity for personal and professional growth, both for the manager and the subordinate. It’s difficult to point out mistakes or deal with sensitive issues, but they provide a chance to learn and improve.
Difficult conversations vs. challenging conversations
Difficult conversations occur when you have a problem and can’t find a solution to it. You could try asking a few questions about the subject being discussed or a complex situation.
Challenging conversations are usually about clashes, discussions and changing points of view. These conversations become challenging because you have to break down preconceived ideas.
Some examples of difficult conversation topics at work
The way the conversation is conducted can differ from person to person. However, there are some situations that are more common in the workplace. Analyzing the context certainly helps in the way dialogues are conducted.
Many people find it extremely difficult to deal with criticism, even constructive criticism. So, if you need to conduct a conversation with this characteristic, have a lot of empathy with the recipient.
Under no circumstances should the conversation take an awkward approach that makes the moment even more delicate and stressful. Conduct the conversation in a mild tone, reinforcing the constructive aspect of it.
If the talk is being given to a group of people, remember to emphasize the collective effort and value everyone’s commitment. Point out areas for improvement and emphasize that everyone is there to learn and improve.
Team changes and route changes
It is normal for unforeseen events to occur and for course corrections to be made during a project, impacting the team allocated to it. These decisions are usually made by higher-ups and many employees resist last-minute changes.
That’s why this kind of conversation can become a difficult scenario to manage. The ideal here is to adopt maximum transparency and present the justifications for changes, as well as mistakes and successes.
Harsh, direct communication may not ease resistance. So give as much context as possible to the new scenario, presenting the new paths to follow.
How to talk about dismissal
Certainly one of the most difficult topics of all. Not only for those who receive the news of the switch-off, but also for those who are responsible for the transmission. Few people feel comfortable in the position of firing someone. And that’s totally understandable.
In addition to the obvious personal issues involving the employee’s professional future, a dismissal often affects the team deeply. If the dismissed employee is a loved one, the negative climate sets in and affects everyone’s productivity.
When to talk about dismissal?
This is a type of conversation that should only be conducted when the dismissal actually takes place. It’s important to present all the reasons behind your decision, taking care with the words you use in your speech.
It’s not easy to approach a resignation conversation in a light and constructive way, so an empathetic attitude must prevail at all times. Often, dismissals are not for personal reasons but because of the company’s strategic choices.
So, value your employee’s virtues and encourage them to persist along their desired career path. Thank him for all the time he spent with you and for his dedication.
Death of employees
Like dismissal, the conversation about the death of an employee is one of the most difficult to conduct. Dealing with death involves a range of very intense emotions, so it’s an extremely sensitive subject to tackle.
If possible, hold the conversation with the team with the help of a psychologist or the person in charge of human resources. People create real bonds with their coworkers, so it’s important to have empathy, generosity and affection.
Reports of misconduct
In an organization, there are many rules of conduct and good coexistence that must be adopted by everyone, without exception. Any conversation that involves reporting attitudes of disrespect, prejudice, harassment or abuse should be treated very seriously.
In this case, it is essential to adopt a firm, zero-tolerance tone towards any practice of disrespect. At the same time, identify whether the issue needs to be discussed further in other forums. Educational talks can be an alternative to these conversations.
If possible, create an itinerary
If you are the person responsible for conducting this type of difficult conversation in your workplace, try to build a roadmap with the main topics. This doesn’t mean memorizing your lines or adopting a mechanical approach.
The idea is mainly to propose a reflection prior to the dialog. This way, you can analyze the situation and think about the best strategy to address the issue.
What is non-violent communication?
Nonviolent Communication manuals can be great allies when it comes to conducting difficult conversations. They teach techniques for creating a more empathetic and purposeful dialog environment, leaving aside the more authoritarian and accusatory tones.
Difficult subjects train the mind
How can we improve our communication skills so that we can understand each other better? In this article, you can learn how to communicate effectively with other people, whether it’s a friend, family member, work colleague or even a stranger.
The most important thing is also to understand that: Difficult subjects train the mind!
What are the benefits of tackling difficult subjects?
Difficult and complex issues:
- Reflect on the moment;
- Think about strategies on how to approach them;
- Create the atmosphere for the conversation;
- Create the tone of the conversation with your own mastery;
- Develop strategies for the post-conversation.
All this takes place while you are thinking about how to talk about more complex subjects and, in this way, your mind becomes more trained and your professional career matures.
What do challenges do to us?
Each challenge, each solution to conflicts, is fundamental to your intellectual and relational growth, which is why it’s important never to shy away from issues, as some leaders prefer. Those who do this will never leave the same place, believe me.
Knowing how to communicate difficult subjects brings maturity
Knowing how to communicate difficult subjects brings maturity to the whole team, be sure of that. A high-level team has been through many stressful moments and difficult conversations.
Tackling a sensitive issue at work stops the lack of dialog, and the experience you gain from this will be a lifelong learning experience for you and your team.
Whenever there are other challenging and difficult conversations, the group will already know how to deal with them, without wasting time on peripheral issues. He will know how to deal with everyone’s heart and get everyone back to work!
What do you do when things are difficult?
When things are difficult at work, simply stop everything and sort it out. Don’t be a procrastinator or push anything down with your belly (as the popular saying goes). To heal wounds, you have to put medicine over them.
But remember, the medicine isn’t meant to make it hurt more; on the contrary, it’s meant to heal the wounds and get the whole team ready for new challenges.
How to study difficult subjects
We’ve finally reached the end of our conversation, which, by the way, wasn’t that difficult, was it? We really don’t think so.
We only recommend that you study how to deal with difficult subjects through books, videos and, in particular, training with companies that specialize in the subject. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to deal with.
And what do you have to say about this conversation? Leave your comment below.