A 5-Step Approach To Handling Hard Conversations With Just About Anyone




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Most of us are terrible at having the harder conversations, so having a process to follow really helps.


If you are constantly feeling stressed out and angry because other people are letting you down, it’s time to do something about it.

Most of us will do anything to avoid a difficult conversation. I think it’s time to suck it up and get tough.

How good are you at having those hard conversations?

Will you let a situation continue, regardless of how much it is costing you financially and emotionally because you are afraid of confrontation?

Rest assured you are not alone.

What I tended to do was wait until I was completely frustrated and then I would have a hissy fit and upset everyone, with nothing ever changing.

I hated having hard conversations, so denial became my go-to strategy and I would drive everyone crazy by whinging about the person or the situation.

5 steps to handle a tough conversation

I got sick and tired of this habit and I realised I needed a better way to deal with things.

So, I developed a simple, five-step approach to handling any difficult conversation.

  1. I commit to addressing an issue before I get angry and frustrated about it.
  2. I always stop and think about it from the other person’s perspective – why are they acting in a certain way and how have I contributed to this?
  3. I get very clear about what I want them to do.
  4. I let the person know I would like to have a discussion about something – so I don’t broadside them and put them on the defensive.
  5. I have the discussion, making sure I let the other person explain their position and I never, ever lose my cool.

This is a simple approach that really works.

I’ve used this with suppliers who are not delivering on their promise, customers who are overstepping their mark or being rude and overly demanding, with staff who are not performing, with landlords who have stopped honouring a lease arrangement, and many other difficult situations.

And I’ve become much better at talking about money, often the most difficult of conversations.

The results 

What has the end result been? There have been many positive ones. Firstly, I feel much more confident in handling any situation.

If I have lost a relationship as a result of having a hard conversation, I quickly realised that it was a relationship that had run its course and needed to come to an end.

Also, I have a lot less stress in my life because I nip issues in the bud before I get seriously stressed and frustrated.

If you struggle with having difficult conversations, you really do need to toughen up.

This doesn’t mean you become a monster; it means you are able to have difficult conversations that most people tend to avoid.

Master this skill and a lot will change in your business and in your life.

Andrew Griffiths is a Cairns, Australia-based serial entrepreneur and the author of 12 books on starting, managing, and growing small companies. He is a founding mentor in the global entrepreneurial programme, Key Person of Influence, and presents around the world on small businesses, consumer trends, entrepreneurship, and publishing. To share your thoughts with us on this article, send an email to editor@leaderonomics.com.


This article first appeared on inc-asean.com


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