She said what? - Engaging in difficult conversations

© Mimi Thian/Unsplash

© Mimi Thian/Unsplash

Having a difficult conversation is not a very easy task. A lot of organizations and companies are struggling with the relationship between their employees because of individual differences which are centered on race, gender, and cultural differences.

At some point leaders and employees would have to engage in difficult conversations, employees will also have to engage in conversations amidst themselves too and it does not have to be so awkward. When these conversations are side-stepped it only strains relationships and causes a lot of issues that could be avoided to erupt and infect all areas of work, communication, corporate culture, and operational success.

These conversations may never be easy but there are ways to make it painless and productive on both sides. Here are five ways to have great conversations in offices and organizations.

@ Unsplash

@ Unsplash

Plan out your conversation
Before you call the person there is a need to have a concrete plan, this is not a conversation you leave to chance it could get messy. It is very important that you plan, while planning thinks about what you are going to say and what the response of the person could be or how they would react.

The more prepared you are, the easier it becomes to have the conversation, to remain even-tempered and also to maintain the right balance throughout the conversation. As with any well mapped conversation, it is a dialogue and not a monologue, so your "plan" needs a kind of flexibility to bend to distractions, interruptions, and unanticipated responses. While your plan may be in play, being present and intuitive to your "chatmate" can transform communication pathways and even relationships.

Be specific
While having the conversation it is important that you are very honest with your feedback. Be very sincere and clarify your thoughts while having the conversation. Be very detailed and give concrete examples so that the person can understand you clearly. Avoid beating around the bush and try to be direct in your explanations. Go straight to the point and be give a detailed point of view.

Manage emotions
It is important that you have your conversation in an even and professional tone. You need to keep your emotions out of the way and be very diplomatic while engaging in difficult conversations. If you get emotional the other person will do the same and at the end of the day, you will not get the required output.

Relationships are important at work but there is a need to be very professional, you don’t need to be emotional, keep your emotions in check and face the issue with facts. When emotions try to take over you need to remember that you are in control of your emotions. The more you are in control of your emotions, the better you will be able to have a productive conversation. This by no means suggests that you must swallow your emotions, along with trespasses committed, burning questions, or other matters that poke at your soul and dignity. The key is "managing" those feelings and having the maturity and self-control to discern when and how to communicate the points rooted deep under the bed of upset, frustration, or hurt.

Be Empathetic
As direct and specific your conversation should be that has not stopped you from being empathetic, you need to see things from the other person’s point of view. A lot of times people make decisions based on unrelated experiences and personal background so you need to be very empathetic. Think of how the other person would feel during the conversation, allow them to process and gather their emotions. When you see that they are struggling with the conversation, pause and allow them to reflect on your words. Clearly explain why you are having the conversation and try to watch your language so that you don’t hurt their feelings.

If they are taking the news poorly don’t be judgemental, take your time to explain why you are having the conversation with them, it makes the other person feel significant and that you care about their feelings. Certainly various kinds of "fragility" can show up and possibly derail the narrative impacting the outcome of the conversation. If this is happening, you might want to suggest continuing the conversation at a later date. Contrary to how it might appear, this doesn't let the other person off the hook, in fact it gently but directly reminds them that there is more to discuss and you'll be back.

Listen to the other person
Listening is a very important part of communication, don’t just talk allow the other person to speak their mind. Give room for questions, it allows the other person to process the conversation. It also allows you to solidify and clarify the details of the conversation.

Don’t just listen to give an answer, listen because you want to see things from their own perspective and to make them feel important. If you are not sure the other person fully comprehended the conversation, ask clarifying question to know their understanding.

© Pexel

© Pexel

The differences that exist in individuals are what make the workplace interesting and productive. When diversity within the work environment is valued in ethos and practice, work culture can be harmonious, inspiring, and deeply collaborative as well.

Difficult conversations will happen at some point in the workplace and there is a need to be courageous to face it head on. Avoiding these discussions will always have its repercussions. If there is a need to engage in a difficult conversation, it is also important to choose the right environment don’t choose an environment where the other person will feel stressed or put on guard. Choose a place where they can feel relaxed and be able to listen properly.

While engaging in the conversation, don’t sound judgmental, let the other person know you genuinely care about their progress, as this makes them feel secure. Keep all these points in mind to ensure that the conversation is well received and very productive for you and for the other person. Win-win remember.

Many organizations and companies believe their open approach to business, services and design carries over to interpersonal matters, and are surprised to discover the disfunction lurking beneath the surface, in the staff room and in employee inboxes. While daily interactions and conversations are generally handled without supervisory support, be mindful of an human resources standards and practices around broaching certain topics like race, bias, or harassment. There is also a need for organizations and companies to be proactive and organize evaluations and professional development trainings on emotional and cultural intelligence in an effort to encourage and ideally model a good relationship amidst colleagues.