Conducting difficult conversations

The biggest reason for poor behaviour in meetings is simply an unwillingness in people to confront it.
Basically, we don’t like difficult conversations, and so we rely on other options to avoid them: That the behaviour will improve of its own accord; that the person will take the hint; that somebody else will deal with it; that we can leave it for a while.

The reality is that these things are simply a means to rationalise and justify avoidance of the issue.
But people tend to avoid the issue not just because difficult conversations are not pleasant, but because most of us do not really feel confident in conducting them.
To be frank in most places of work they are not that common (as much due to avoidance as anything else). And where they do happen, they happen in private, and so we are unlikely to see them (unless they happen to us).
Difficult conversations can easily go wrong, and so we need to be sufficiently knowledgeable and skilled to conduct them effectively. But without seeing good examples in action, how do we develop that knowledge and skill?
Fortunately the Internet provides a wealth of valuable resources on this topic:
Essentially the essence of a successful difficult conversation lies in ensuring we find a mutually beneficial solution.
In the stress of working up to the situation, we risk losing sight of this fact, and seeing the individual as the problem to be fixed. This is telegraphed from the outset in our phrasing and our body language, and before we know it we are in conflict.
However, if we can see the problem in a way that both parties in the conversation can understand  and agree, it enables both parties to work together to understand:
  1. What a successful outcome might be
  2. The issues that are currently holding us back from that, and their underlying causes
  3. What might be put in place to address those issues
  4. A practical plan of action to achieve the successful outcome
Working through the above 4 steps in order can help to defuse conflict, and support a constructive discussion which meets the needs of both parties.

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