Courageous Conversations: How Handle Difficult Conversations in the Workplace and in Our Personal Lives

We all face difficult conversations that need to be handled. And we all dread them. We can call those Courageous Conversations, because they oftentimes require so much courage to handle. On a personal level, this can be a conversation with your spouse, your parent, your sibling, or friend. In the work environment, this can be a much-dreaded conversation with your boss, with your colleague or with a client.

Whether at work or home, the implications and the concerns are quite similar both on the personal and on the professional level: to lose the recipient, to create hostility, detachment, loss of interest altogether, to have to deal with a highly emotional reaction that will be hard for us to manage, tears, anger, raised tone of voice, perhaps accusations. Who knows? Such a Courageous Conversation may develop in many different ways. We know that we need to have it, that what we have to say has to be said — but we also know that we are taking a risk. A big risk. And that who knows what the reaction may be and how this conversation may end.

On the other hand, there is the other option — avoidance. We might have tried that option before, even several times. The reality is that in a situation where a courageous conversation needs to take place, avoidance will only lead to a deterioration of the situation.

Here are some questions that you may want to ask yourself, in order to evaluate if a

Courageous Conversation needs to take place:

• How severe is the situation that I am looking to address?
• What are my possible risks?
• What are my possible gains?
• Who is my recipient? What is there personality like? How are they likely to respond?

Some people, when handling a Courageous Conversations, are so concerned about the reaction to the message that they are looking to convey, and so concerned about the consequences, that they do what is called Avoidant Communication. That means, that while they do have the Courageous Conversation, realizing that it needs to take place, they deliver the message in such a foggy, obscure manner, that what had to be said is not really said clearly, and the recipient is quite likely not to really get it.

Here are your five golden rules to make sure that your message comes across, and in the clearest and most effective way:

1. Make sure everything you say is accurate and backed up by facts

2. Make sure to check accuracy of information ahead of time

3. Avoid unnecessary repetitions and expanding with more and more adjectives, to prevent lack of accuracy. Stick to the facts and make sure that they are accurate.

4. Practice ahead of time, many times, as preparation for your meeting

5. Be prepared and calm to receive feedback from the recipient as well. They must have some feedback on you too, and as much as you want to be listened to and respected in what you are looking to convey, your recipient may have some feedback and perspective that you might not have thought of. Be prepared to not only convey messages but also to be an attentive recipient yourself.

Good Luck!