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5 Ways to Build Courage and Competence for Difficult Conversations

Difficult Conversations - TBM Payroll, Glens Falls, NY

This article comes from Entrepreneur.

5 Ways to Build Courage and Competence for Difficult Conversations

It’s not always the right time, the right issue, or the right person — and of course, there are risks. But you can minimize these by remembering some key principles.

1. Build the relationship before you need it.

If you already have trust with the person or people you need to talk to, they’re much more likely to listen.

2. Get the timing right.

You’re a lot less likely to get a good response if you address an issue with your boss in front of her boss. Instead, find some time when you’re alone and give them a succinct explanation of what you want to address.

3. Explain your purpose.

As important as it is to be clear about what you want to address, it’s equally important to explain why. Left to our own devices, we’ll often come up with the worst possible explanation about why somebody is raising something we don’t enjoy hearing. Make it clear why you’re taking this risk.

4. Make it about them.

If possible, link your purpose to something the person you’re talking to cares about. A great example of this is a client who knew that her boss cared about hitting the sales budget and pointed out that if he interrupted the team when they spoke, he was less likely to hear good ideas about sales initiatives over time.

5. Take responsibility.

In many cases, you will have some responsibility for the issue at stake. Even if the only thing you did wrong is to allow the “bad behavior” to continue longer than you should, take that responsibility. It usually disarms the other person and stops the conversation being derailed as they respond with, “But you did/didn’t …”

Remember that the skills needed to speak up effectively can be learned, but they are skills and, as such, must be practiced. You can’t simply read a book or articles; it takes deliberate practice over time.

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