From time to time we all have to have them and most of us don’t like them. You know those conversations where you have to confront someone because they hurt you or someone else or they let the team down. If you don’t have this conversation the pattern of behavior may cause more damage and may never be fixed.
But these kind of conversations make most of us quite nervous. How do you have these conversations well?
I was bad at having these conversations because I either didn’t have them or I blew up when I did have them. So I spent a lot of time researching how to have a good confrontational conversation. One where the truth is explored and there is a way forward with as little emotional turmoil as possible.
Here is the method I use to having these hard and yet necessary conversations:
Firstly you have to change your mindset about the behavior and the conversation. Instead of justifying the behavior you need to imagine the consequences of this behavior keeping on going. What would happen if this behavior kept on going? What date would it do to you or your organisation? This will give you the motivation for having the conversation. Secondly, think of the conversation not as a confrontational one but one where you are both going to explore truth and find a way forward. If you think about the conversation in this frame of mind it is far less nerve wracking. And thirdly, pray thanking God for the person. In the first chapter of 1 Corinthians Paul gives great thanks to God for the people he is about to rebuke. He has a divine perspective on these people. If you and the person you need to have this conversation with are Christians you have to realize that God is working through and in this person by his spirit. Thanking God for the person helps us remind us of what God is doing and it will help is see the person in a balanced frame of mind.
Now onto the conversation.
I think a conversation like we are talking about has four elements
1. Firstly you as the person to explain their side of the story. This helps you hear the person out and they don’t feel like they are being attacked
2. Talk about the facts. Now these are the facts that you can both agree on. For example “You said x and why to this person” or “You said you would do this and you didn’t”
3. Talk about your feelings. Without being overly emotional describe the way the issue made you feel. For example “When you said this I felt hurt.”
4. Talk about the way forward. You have to define the way forward and make it very clear. For example “If this happens again we will have to put you on probation and if it happens again after that we will have to fire you.” Be as clear as you can in this step.
A few days later make sure you follow the person up. Especially if you are their leader. If you are their leader they need to know that you are in their corner and you want them to flourish. Make sure you tell them this!
And finally here are two books that I found of great use to me in this area are:
Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward by Henry Cloud
Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott
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