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06.03.16How to Have Difficult Conversations

Take your leadership competencies to the next level by getting comfortable with uncomfortable conversations.  Many leaders often fear having  difficult conversations, yet the consequence of not having these conversations can be costly.  Having a difficult conversation requires empathy, skill, and courage. Despite the discomfort or fear that comes with beginning an uncomfortable conversation, the results are often well worth it, producing strong results and deeper understanding.  If you’re unsure on how to have a difficult conversation, here are some tips:

Know how to begin- Be upfront, authentic and respectful and choose the right place for the conversation.  Lead with observations and questions and not conclusions and emotions.  Articulate and identify the issue and know what you want to accomplish in the conversation.

Make it a safe conversation- When your or the other person become defensive restate the purpose of the conversation.  Share what you want out of the conversation and the relationship.  Share your concerns and clarify your intent.  Focus on the issue not the person, leaders build people up.

Keep your emotions in check- Manage your emotions.  When a conversation becomes emotional it sends you into fight or flight.  When you feel a flight or fight response take a deep breath.  Know and return to your purpose when difficult moments arise.  

Explore others views- Create a mindset of inquiry and explore the others person’s point of view.  Be open and listen. A good leader remains curious and always seeks a greater truth.  Your goal is not necessarily to agree yet to explore and acknowledge.

End the conversation well- How you end is just as important as how you begin.  Come to a consensus about the next steps and who will do what and when.  Schedule a time for following up and evaluate progress and reach closure.

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