Leadership – Managing Difficult Conversation


Managing difficult conversation is one of the most difficult situations that you have to face by virtue of being a leader. Managing difficult conversations require tact, diplomacy and patience beside other traits.

If you are also faced with the task of having to carry out difficult conversations then below we will offer you a brief but elaborate guide on how to manage difficult conversations.

Remember that you are Not the Only One who is Right

If you participate in the conversation as if you are the only one who is right then there is no point of carrying out the conversation in the first place. Therefore, participate in the conversation with an open mind and give due respect to other’s point of view and opinions throughout the conversation.

Prepare yourself for the Conversation

Before you enter the difficult conversation make sure you are mentally prepared for it. Mentally preparing yourself means doing away with any pre-conceived notions and prejudices that you may have in your mind against the person.

Be utmost clear about the Objective of the Conversation

Before you step into the conversation be very clear about the objective of the conversation so the conversation may not drag into needless territories. Decide on objectives like the core issue the conversation is about and the impact it is having on your organization.

Once you have decided on your core objectives make sure you stick to these during the conversation.

Be Clear about the Outcome

Of course you want a certain outcome from the conversation. Therefore, decide on what exactly it is and make sure that the conversation focuses and ends on the outcome/solution. You are not participating in the conversation so it may end on acrimony in fact you are participating in it to bring an end to the problem and arrive at a solution with mutual consent.

Focus on Listening and do not give in to the Temptation of Speaking throughout the Conversation

Instead of talking and repeating what you already know focus on listening to learn something new i.e. something you do not know about.

Therefore, refrain from talking too much and consider speaking once you have understood what the other person is trying to convey.

Learn to Manage Emotions

The interesting thing here is that as a leader it is just not your emotions that you need to manage as you are also entrusted with the task of managing the emotions of the person you are conversing with. Expecting to come to the table leaving emotions behind and ignoring when they rear their head is not going to help and is not even realistic.

The ideal scenario entails that you do not allow the tension in the atmosphere to escalate to the extent that it results in an outburst of emotions. However, once it happens, deal with it politely and assure that you mean to help.

Embrace the Moments of Silence

Every difficult conversation will have its moments of silence so be ready to embrace it. Do not jump to fill the silence rather avail this is an opportunity to gather your thoughts and reflect.

Keep Relationship a Priority

As a leader preserving the relationship should be your priority. Therefore, make sure that the relationship does not suffer owing to the conversation. Though it takes years to build a relationship all it takes is a mere minute to damage it. Therefore, make sure you do not let this happen because your role as a leader does not provide room for damaging relationships.

End it on a Good Note

Make sure you end the conversation on a good note so the meeting may leave no acrimony behind both in the heart and the mind of the other person.


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