Whether we like it or not, occasionally we have to give a tough talk, usually somewhat critical, to an employee, co-worker (or even a beloved family member.). What can we do to make it more palatable for us and less painful for the receiver?
Lynne Cunningham, a long-time healthcare communicator, offers several suggestions in her new book, “Taking Conversations from Difficult to Doable.”
She observes that in any of those conversations, it’s important to determine the motive for it, emphasizing that it should be to “complete not compete.”
Here are some of her suggestions for accomplishing that successfully:
- Ease into it: Talk about somethinhg positive or neutral so the other person feels at ease and is not immediately put on the defensive. Ask questions like, “How was your weekend?”
- Say “Yes,” instead of “Yes, but..” The “but” diminishes the compliment with which the sentence started. Try “and” instead, such as: You’re doing a great job learning that new task, AND I think you’d be even better at it if you changed those first steps a little.”
- Speak respectively, even when disagreeing. Ask yourself, “How would I feel if someone talked to me this way?”
Those steps will help you create trust and a safe environment for a constructive conversation and also show you respect the other person says Cunningham.
She adds that’s important, since trust, respect and safety are three legs of a stool that must be in balance to manage tough conversations
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