6 Power Tips for Having a Tough Conversation

You tried to deal with the issue when it was small but there’s no improvement. Now it’s time for a tough conversation.

Power Tips for Tough Conversations:

#1. Build positive relationships:

Positive relationships are the foundation for successful tough conversations.

Pat people on the back more than kicking them in the pants. You suck the life out of people when all you do is point out what’s wrong.

#2. Preparation:

Tell people they matter by being prepared when they show up.

Don’t say, “I’ll be with you after I finish this email.”

  1. Set your phone to ‘do not disturb’ before they arrive.
  2. Put your computer to sleep.
  3. Get your head in a positive space.
    • Write down three positive qualities you see in the person.
    • Record your best intention.
  4. Think more about what you want than what you don’t want.

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” Alexander Graham Bell

#3. Location:

Your office is number three on the list of best places to have a tough conversation.

Have tough conversations in their office, not yours. If their office isn’t an option, choose a neutral space or take a walk.

Remove physical barriers. Don’t sit behind your desk, for example.

#4. Stay open:

Prepare for a tough conversation with a trusted adviser or coach, but don’t script everything you plan to say. 

#5. Get to the point quickly:

Avoid chit-chat. The feedback sandwich is full of baloney. It’s a terrible waste of positive affirmations.

  1. “Let’s jump right in.”
  2. “There’s an issue I’d like to discuss.”

#6. Turn to the future:

Turn tough conversations toward the future quickly.

Don’t spend 45 minutes explaining what’s wrong and 10 minutes discussing how to make it right.

  1. State the issue.
  2. Give an example.
  3. Declare your positive intention for them.
  4. Ask, “How might you improve in this area?”

What power tips for tough conversations might you add? (I’m planning to add to the list this afternoon.)