On having tough conversations…

Much of my work involves facilitating tough conversations.

Sometimes I initiate them, and sometimes I’m invited to join them.

Sometimes they go well. Sometimes not so much.

In most cases, I know when it’s coming. Occasionally, if I’m not paying attention, it will sneak up on me.

Regardless, having the ability to navigate complicated and difficult conversations is something I’m continually working on being better at.

Here’s an example of how I remind myself of who I want to be during difficult conversations:

  1. Lead with questions.
  2. Be genuinely curious.
  3. Be friendly.
  4. Listen to understand.
  5. Pay attention.
  6. Don’t make assumptions.
  7. Don’t take it personally.
  8. Don’t get defensive.
  9. Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.
  10. Treat feedback as advice, not criticism.
  11. Stay within my integrity.
  12. Don’t compromise on my standards.
  13. Remember, we’re all born to work together.

I don’t always know when a difficult conversation may arise, but when I know it’s going to be tough I find it helpful to literally write this list out prior to meetings so I can be in the best frame of mind.

I’d love to know how you set yourself up to be a great communicator in difficult circumstances.

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