How to have difficult conversations, is linked to my previous video in this series, where I explained why difficult conversations usually play out in one of two ways. You either avoid the conversation altogether or you prime yourself in advance for conflict and a negative experience.

The likelihood of a great outcome under these circumstances is average at best and there’s one thing that great teams and organisations are NOT built on and that’s being average. So what’s the alternative?

Well, here are my 5 steps for a more productive approach to those difficult conversations:

First, be specific and direct – don’t sandwich anything, just get straight to the point. It sounds counterintuitive, but your people will thank and respect you for being straight with them, so talk to the impact the performance is having on you, the team, your customers and your organisation and also include how it makes you feel.

Second, use two specific examples, firstly, one that includes the specific issue or behaviour you want to address and secondly, the right behaviour or strength that you’ve seen in use already that could help address the issue.

This approach moves both of you into a positive state of emotion and leverages their strengths, which means they will be more energised, more creative and more likely to deliver a successful outcome.

Third, listen for what is and what isn’t being said. This is where your Emotional Intelligence gets a workout, so stay engaged and focused on things beyond what they say, like their body language and emotional state. And don’t forget to self-monitor, throughout the process, your own emotional state creates a ripple effect and is literally contagious to the person in front of you.

Fourth, agree what’s next, help develop, rather than give, the solution and next steps. People with autonomy have much higher levels of positive emotion, which equals more creativity, broader thinking, and ownership.
Then agree on the what, who and when of what’s next, including how you intend to help and support them going forward.

Finally, follow up. This is the key thing that impacts effective execution of any objective, so make sure that there is a cadence of accountability and that means regular follow up against what was agreed in step 4.
This final step importantly should also include recognising success, more ongoing support and further coaching to improve performance.

Well, that’s it for this video, if you like the content, hit subscribe for my weekly updates and please comment below.

Thanks and see you next time.