Tips for starting a difficult conversation and keeping it going

You’ve planned for your difficult conversation and you’ve decided to go ahead. But how do you start? And how do you conduct yourself as the conversation gets going?


A great way to start is to acknowledge that you see things one way but understand that the other person probably sees things differently. Invite them into having the conversation so that you can share your perspective and learn about theirs.


Property agents are wont to tell you that there are three things that are important when buying a property: POSITION, POSITION, POSITION. Well, there are three things that are important when having a conversation (especially a difficult one): LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN.


But you will also need to speak and when you do so, express yourself clearly, unambiguously, and without being dogmatic or opinionated.


Lastly, help the other person to have a better conversation by reframing their unhelpful statements into helpful statements. For example, if they talk “blame”, you reframe as “contribution”. If they seem to believe what they’re saying is the “truth”, you reframe as a “different perspective”.


Difficult conversations aren’t easy. You have to practice. So get out there and have one.

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