Difficult Conversations   2 comments


Sometimes in life we are given the responsibility to have conversations that may be uncomfortable or difficult.  The conversation may be a sensitive matter.  The conversation may be with a person we are close with and whose feelings we would prefer to protect.  The conversation may be with a person who is difficult to deal with and/or someone who is prone to responding very negatively.  Whatever the details of the conversation, we each encounter times when we would prefer not having the conversation at all.  Yet, because of our position or some other responsibility, we must have the conversation.

What do you do?

First, let me state that there is no one “correct” way to have the conversation.  Second, there are skills that you can develop in both listening and communicating which can help to reduce the tension level in the conversation.  However, there are some general guidelines that I have adopted in my experiences of having these conversations.  Here is my list:

  1. Do not enter the conversation with the goal of assigning blame.
  2. Look at the person as a person, not a problem.
  3. Understand that everyone has a different perspective so you need to be open to hearing the other person’s perspective.
  4. Be honest without being mean.
  5. Clarify misunderstandings and/or different perspectives of a situation.
  6. Take ownership of what you can take ownership of and not assume all the aspects as your own.
  7. Maintain your sound level and pace of your words.
  8. Be mindful of your non-verbal communication.

This list is far from exhaustive.

What would you add to this list?

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2 responses to “Difficult Conversations

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  1. I would add the following:

    1. Before the meeting, spend time in prayer. Ask God for understanding, wisdom, and compassion
    2. Not all problems can be solved in one meeting. Some people need time to think about what has been said before making a decision or a commitment. Don’t be discouraged if a solution is not immediately found, but work to arrange another meeting to continue to work on the issue.
    3. Listen more than you talk
    4. Listen with an open mind and an open heart
    5. Try to avoid coming to the meeting with preconceived ideas of how the problem should be fixed. Be open to the idea that you may not be right.
    6. After the meeting, spend time in prayer. Ask God to help you process what occurred during the meeting. Pray for understanding, wisdom, and compassion.

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