7 Tips to Help You Prepare for Difficult Workplace Conversations

difficult workplace conversationsThe world of office politics can be eye-opening and daunting to young professionals. And as many workplace veterans might tell you: there are certain lessons that can only be learned as you actually experience them.

You won’t really know what it feels like to be fired, for instance, until you go through it yourself (believe me, you learn a lot).

You can, however, educate and prepare yourself for difficult workplace conversations by using these seven tips:

Don’t Ignore the Warning Signs

Too often we ignore issues or frustrations because we’re not sure how to approach them. If you’re having a difficult time doing your job because of someone or something, you need to deal with it… it will not just go away. 

However, first make sure you seek to understand the real issue. Failing to consider the core issues before you launch into a conversation to fix them, in many cases, means you’ll be working on the symptoms instead of the root cause of the problem.

Don’t Confuse Personality Issues with Workplace Issues

At some point in your career, you’ll have to work with someone who rubs you the wrong way. When this happens, step back for a moment to ask yourself:

“Are they actually impacting my job, or is this simply a personality issue?”

But the truth is you won’t, and don’t have to like everyone. But a good dose of compassion comes in very handy here… and help you avoid a conversation that doesn’t have to happen.

Understand the Boundaries You Need

Often, workplace distraction rears its head in the form of broken boundaries.

The best way to halt the encroachment of necessary boundaries, whether it’s on your personal space or your workload, is to make sure you draw the line firmly from the beginning. Because sometimes, before we know it, those lines are blurred anyway.

So what makes you less productive? What distractions are affecting your focus and production? What boundaries do you need to establish, or re-establish, in order to be most efficient?

Consider the Other’s Position

Compassion and empathy are not just touchy feely language; tey are very effective tools in being able to get along with, and work well with, others.

When you analyze the problem that requires the tough conversation, make sure you try hard, to consider the other person’s position and how this conversation will make them feel.

Yes, business is business, and tough conversations are part of the deal. But considering how the other person or people will feel when hearing what you have to say will help you find the right language to sincerely communicate your position.

Leverage Your Mentor Relationships

Like I said:, some lessons about the workplace are best learned by living through them. But your mentor and their past experiences can become a decent facsimile while greatly reducing your learning curve and time to resolution.

Of course, we should all deliberately build relationships with mentors who know us well. And helping us prepare for these tough workplace conversations is just one more reason why.

Practice the Conversation

Difficult workplace conversations can be full of emotions; a powder keg of pent up frustrations. The best way to avoid an emotional explosion? Carefully choose your words and delivery style… then practice repeatedly until you can communicate in a calm manner.

In your head. In front of a mirror. With a trusted colleague. Practice the conversation again and again.

Difficult workplace conversations can be full of emotions; a powder keg of pent up frustrations. The best way to avoid an emotional explosion? Carefully choose your words and delivery style… then practice repeatedly until you can communicate in a calm manner.

Most of us dread these tough conversations, so above all else, go easy on yourself. You may screw up, you may say something wrong. But in the end, that’s how we learn.

 

Amy TobinAbout the Author: Amy McCloskey Tobin is a content strategist and creator. She specializes in generational insights, the future of work, the remote workforce, workplace diversity, and how tech has changed the business world. Amy has worked with major online publications to develop content and content strategy. A devotee of social media, Amy believes firmly that great content begets social media community. Find Amy on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter!

 

 

This entry was posted in Career Advice and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.