When it’s time to have difficult conversations, most people expect the worst.
Research would show, in most cases, both parties are grateful or relieved from the conversation. In fact, in a majority of situations, both parties are aware the conversation needs to happen.
In order to successfully navigate these sensitive conversations, even in the best circumstances, it’s better to do them in person if possible.
If you can’t, you must do everything in your power to create a “psychologically safe” space to build a bridge.
- Prepare. Think about the purpose of your conversation, the experience you intend to create, and the outcome you’re seeking.
- Eliminate distractions.
- Ask questions: who, what, when, where, and why. Become more curious than certain.
- Listen. Truly work to understand exactly what the other person is saying. No assumptions; listen for what people are implying, desires, fears and hopes.
- Repeat back, summarize the main points, and name the feelings you heard. Try to use their words and repeat back to see if you “got it.” If not, you’ll hear it again until they believe you did anyway.
- Repeat these steps until the feelings diffuse.
- Then, and only then, do you make your points from a neutral and understanding place.