Difficult Conversations: Find Your Courage

Posted by Andrea Hopke on Tue, Jun 03, 2014

cc_difficult_conversationsWe all want a workplace in which we are engaged in productive work; a culture of engagement in which we can safely identify and discuss issues as they occur, truthfully and with resolution. To work with others we trust and who trust us. But less than half of us believe that our organizations have environments in which healthy dialog is encouraged. What can you do about it?

Consider these tough topics: performance reviews, negotiations, apologizing, and resisting change. We were encouraged by clients over the past year to produce a book/workbook that targets those topics and the tips for dealing with them. We published TOUGH TALK in April, 2014; bulk orders are available on our website and single orders on Amazon. Find your courage by learning how to prepare for the different types of difficult conversations.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the first 9 TIPS 

Tip #1:  Giving Tough Performance Reviews - Start by Looking in the Mirrorcc leadership lion 001

When tackling a tough review, focus on your own improvement first. What is a recurrent theme in your feedback sessions or assessments you’ve received? Then you are better prepared to role model how the other person can take their information and build a plan for self-development.

Tip #2:  Negotiating - Know Your Worth

Men are four times more likely than women to negotiate a salary increase, but women are actually better than men in representing others in negotiations. Do your homework. Know your worth and find a woman to help you negotiate it!

Tip #3:  Dealing with a Poor Leader - Ask for Feedback

Poor leadership happens at any level – your boss, your peers, your direct reports. One of the tools for identifying and eliminating derailing behavior is 360 Feedback. Suggest that your entire team complete a 360 degree feedback program – that way, no one person is called out (including your boss). Everyone learns from the information and builds trust by sharing insights and next steps.

Tip #4:  When Next Steps Aren’t Clear – Develop a Vision

cc_difficult_conversationsDon’t wait for HR or your boss to gift you with the career road map of your dreams. Create a powerful personal development plan you can share with others and be ready when opportunity arrives.

Tip #5:  Confronting Abrasive Behavior – Name it

When you see gossip, triangulation, demeaning sarcasm, blame, defensiveness, arrogance or aggressiveness, name it. The simple act of identifying a derailing behavior allows you and your teammates to choose whether and how to address it.

Tip #6:  Appearances Matter – Take a Stand

One of the tipping points in challenging conversations is the ability to enroll others, creating a positive impression, showing commitment and poise. Work on your executive presence – not just physical appearance, but confidence, authenticity, expertise, grace under fire, and a clear vision for direction.

Tip #7:  Know Your Natural Workstyle … and Theirs

All of us can be reluctant to change – some more than others. What is your natural style? Use the DiSC profile (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness) for insights into yours and others’ natural proclivity to judge, to act, to analyze, to change.

Tip #8:  “Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”

Thank you, Benjamin Franklin.

Tip #9:  Peer -to-Peer Accountability – Go First

It is much easier to confront a challenging situation requiring tough talk when you know what role you and others play, and what the milestones are. Get clear with your peers. Establish agreements for how you will interact, how you will “name” elements when they go off the rails, how you will disagree.

Click this link to see Tip #10

As Susan Scott reminds us that change happens one conversation at a time. 

Be proactive. Be bold. Be prepared. Go first!

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Topics: improve workplace relationships, difficult conversations, tough talk

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