Best Ways to Handle Difficult Conversations in the Workplace

Whether it’s discussing a raise with our boss or dealing with an inconsiderate co-worker, we are often forced to have conversations with others in the workplace we are not always comfortable with. And, although most of us would rather avoid uneasy discussions, learning how to handle them can actually help us be more successful in our careers.

Difficult conversations, when handled appropriately, can be extremely productive by allowing one or both parties to face specific issues head-on. Often, this enables a breakthrough in the relationship, turning an initial awkward situation into a positive one.

If you’re wondering how you can prepare for the discussion so that the exchange goes as smoothly as possible, here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • Know your intentions – Understand why you are having the conversation in the first place and what you want to come as a result of it.
  • Prepare – Jot down a few notes prior to the discussion so that you don’t leave out important things you want to say. But, remember that while preparing may help you touch on specific points, it shouldn’t be used as a script. Let the conversation flow naturally as each of you responds to the other.
  • Have an open mind – Although you may feel there is a particular problem to address, the other person may not know how you feel. So, try not to harbor on negative feelings, expecting the person to get where you are coming from automatically. Also, be conscious of your words and tone and avoid being defensive and attacking them without hearing their side first.
  • Listen – Don’t go into the conversation heated and try your best to listen to what the other person is saying instead of putting your response together in your mind while they are talking. This will help to make sure you’re addressing the issues correctly and will be much more effective overall.
  • Ask questions – If you’re unsure of something, ask instead of assuming. You will gain a much better understanding of the other person’s viewpoint by asking open-ended questions, which may also change your initial outlook.
  • Acknowledge there will be differences – Working with a lot of different people is not easy, especially when you have opposite opinions. But, just because you have different personalities, doesn’t mean you can’t approach the conversation professionally and with tact.
  • Reflect – It takes a lot of courage and skill to tackle a difficult discussion. After it’s over, think of what went well and what you can improve on in the future. Then, use that information as a learning tool so that you always get the best possible outcome.

Having difficult discussions with people in your workplace, whether they are colleagues or superiors, is never easy or fun. But by being aware of the following things, you can approach the conversation both positively and productively.

At The Jobs Partnership, we feel it’s important you have someone to talk to that can help put you on the right path to both personal and professional success. When you begin our LifeWorks training course, you will be connected to a team of knowledgeable and friendly coaches who are dedicated to seeing you grow. To begin your journey to a better life, apply for our 12-week no-cost program today.

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