In business, difficult conversations are a part of life. When it comes to handling difficult conversations with employees, it can be enough to make many a leader cringe. After all, feelings are a messy endeavor, right?
But there are gaps in leadership created by not having these conversations. Those gaps can impact retention rates, morale, and the bottom line. There are things to be gleaned from those difficult conversations that can make for better leadership and a better organization.
No matter how much planning you have, situations have a way of getting off track. That is why the best organizations have preparations in place for those situations. That does not mean being scripted, but it means going over quality questions that can give clarity as to why the situation has progressed as it has.
There is no way to prepare for every possible outcome. But with proper preparation, it can build confidence and experience in leaders to handle more of these difficult situations.
Check Ego at the Door
As much as some organizations would like to be in control from start to finish, there is a reason that these conversations are difficult. Furthermore, you can’t simply ignore or avoid the conflict as it will likely only further charge the situation.
That is why tackling the conversation with an honest, open, and transparent approach is so important. It won’t make the person feel better about being in the situation, but it may at least let them know that they are heard and understood.
While it may be difficult to fully understand what the person on the other end of the conversation is going through, being compassionate and showing empathy can be impactful. Moreover, having an empathetic response lowers the chance of a defensive response.
Keep things private to limit interruption. Be aware of your body language and tone. Try to demonstrate that you understand the brevity of the situation. It won’t make things wonderful and happy, but it may deescalate the situation.