3 Steps to Having Difficult Conversations at Work

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One of the most difficult things we have to do as employers and workers is to have uncomfortable talks at work. Nobody relishes it, and only a select handful are capable of pulling it off.


It's important to have unpleasant talks as a member of a team regardless of your position or function in that team, since it may make all the difference. To protect ourselves, our thoughts magnify these difficult talks to the point of becoming unbearable.


In the workplace, why do we avoid having difficult conversations?

Why do we subject ourselves to this level of self-inflicted pain? What is it about uncomfortable talks that makes us want to avoid them? If the solution were so obvious, we'd have found it by now.

When it comes to risk-taking, our brains aren't set up that way.


"It's far simpler to avoid confrontation and resistance than it is to be forced to develop and feel uncomfortable," as the saying goes. In order to build the abilities and resources necessary to conduct uncomfortable talks with our coworkers, we must embrace our fear of change.


Complex debates, long-winded dialogues and pushing people's capabilities are all necessary for businesses to find solutions to their challenges.

However, this is what makes being part of a team or an organization so appealing. In the face of adversity, a community's strength may be seen. However, if this success comes at the expense of poor communication, assigning blame, or avoiding responsibility for the mistakes made along the way, it is a failure.

How to Have Difficult Conversations at Work: 3 Steps to Success

Employee well-being and productivity are directly correlated, according to recent studies, to the quality of one's workplace connections. Furthermore, excellent work connections have a favorable impact on the behavior and mannerisms of workers.

As a result, it's essential for workers to understand how to initiate unpleasant talks in the workplace in order to create or enhance their professional relationships.

Start with these three essential actions if you want to enhance your capacity to initiate uncomfortable discussions at work.

1. Have a Face-to-Face Meeting

Before my fellow millennials start freaking out behind their smartphones, we need to understand why this is so crucial.

It all boils down to respect, according to this theory.

By putting up a screen in front of your face, you may isolate yourself from the person you're conversing with. Emotionally tough topics or points of tension need mutual respect in order to be discussed openly and honestly.

Regardless of what someone says or does, you won't alter your viewpoint if you don't appreciate their opinion.

As a matter of fact, it's a show of contempt and lack of maturity for someone to ghost or leave someone in the dark.

In order to go ahead in a personal or professional relationship, it is necessary to conduct uncomfortable, important conversations face-to-face. "Relationships with coworkers start with a human face," says Margaret Schweer.

If you want to share your perspective, you must be physically present and ready to hear what the other person has to say. Furthermore, body language can often reveal more about what someone is trying to communicate than simply listening to their words can.

People will often tell you far more than what they are actually saying to you, so your ability to pick up on subtle nuances will vastly improve when you’re physically present and sitting across from them.

In order to truly be present, you must be present in your mind and heart.

2. Listen to Understand, Not to Respond

Difficult conversations don’t come about because of a minor slight or gesture. In many cases, they arise from repeated outcomes that never resolve on their own, which causes even more emotional angst and stress because of the length it has occurred over.

Your mentality going into any conversation, whether it be a good one or a bad one, should be to make sure that you master your communication skills.

And while communication in a traditional sense is something you can control with your words and use of gestures, it also heavily involves actively listening and understanding where the other person is coming from.

Emotional intelligence is a highly regarded trait that many leaders seek to master because it allows them to better understand the person they’re communicating with.

It also allows them to put their feet in another person’s shoes and find empathy for where they may be coming from.

We often forget that our ego is the enemy. We’re usually more worried about preserving our own image, which may cause us to dismiss how the other person is feeling during a conversation.

If we don’t actively seek opportunities to understand what they’re saying, then we will miss out on a chance to appreciate their perspective. When we can't connect, it's usually because we haven't communicated effectively.

3. Pose a Question and Seek Reaction

Requesting feedback should be as simple as having uncomfortable talks.

There is frequently a lack of communication and both sides make assumptions when you eventually get over your anxiety and begin the conversation.

We often get into difficulties due of our preconceived notions and clumsy communication, which lead us to misunderstand the person we are conversing with.

Preconceived prejudice in the context of technology research demonstrates that "although various forms of experience have a major influence on the choice to utilize a technology product, this effect is fully prevented by the preconceived bias of the person regarding technology."

These findings may be applied to interpersonal connections as well as technology.

Because our preconceived views restrict us from embracing facts that contradicts our previous notions about someone, they might keep us from really knowing them.

When you're open to receiving feedback, however, you're also open to receiving input from others. Learning from your mistakes and taking responsibility for your own faults are two benefits of being open-minded about receiving criticism.

Mistakes happen to everyone, but those who keep making the same ones establish unhealthy habits and poor working relationships with their coworkers.

Your colleagues will feel more comfortable giving their thoughts and ideas if you are open to receiving them. This will help establish trust, communication, and teamwork within the workplace.

It's important to keep in mind that a healthy relationship doesn't always equal less conflict. Greater trust and understanding can only be achieved when people are able to communicate effectively.

Action Heals All Wounds

Difficult talks are more often than not the result of a history of poor judgment or a failure to learn from past blunders. In other words, if you want to make a difference in the workplace and restore trust, then you must take action and accept responsibility for your activities.

Time will reveal how both sides react to uncomfortable conversations, as actions speak louder than words. As a result, the only alternative left is to take responsibility for your conduct.

The ability to accept responsibility for your plans in the future will increase your willingness to engage in uncomfortable talks. To avoid having to deal with these difficult talks, you will be able to keep up with rising expectations.

There will always be difficult talks to have in the workplace, therefore mastering the art of having difficult conversations can make you more effective.

When you take ownership of your job, you'll be able to initiate challenging talks at work with ease.
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