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Ace That Tough Conversation in 5 Easy Steps

I guess the first question is why? Why do it if you know it’s going to be tough?


Brene Brown says this is one of the ten things you must do to live a brave life. I say it's important because problems don’t get better with age.


One of the reasons we don’t have these conversations is often because we don’t know where to start. If only there was a script we could follow.


Not a script per se, but there is 5 simple steps to follow to get it done. I’ve used this countless times and it works not just because it dials down the nerves through preparation but also because it shifts the conversation from a one-sided beatdown to a two-way dialogue.

Step One – get their perspective first

“I’d like to talk about what happened with the customer yesterday. How do you think it went?”

This works because it allows them to talk first, which feels less threatening for both of you. Your only job is to listen generously.


Step Two – acknowledge that you heard them

“Thank you for sharing your perspective.”

Note that in this step you don’t have to agree or disagree.


Step Three – share your position

“May I share where my perspective differs?”

Now really, isn’t that a beautiful way to disagree in a psychologically safe way? This is where you share what’s at the heart of the issue for you. The beauty of this process is that because you’ve let them speak first, they are much more willing to listen to you.


Step Four – negotiate a solution

“What ideas do you have on how to solve this?”

Since you’ve both been heard, it’s time to find a way to resolve the issue. Note: it can be tempting to use ‘we’ here as a way of collaborating but be careful that doesn’t end up with you, not them, owning the solution.


Step Five – agree on next steps

“I look forward to seeing the results of your efforts. When should we meet again to measure progress?”

This step often gets missed because you are so relieved that to have gotten the tough stuff said. If you skip this step, you’ll be having this conversation again, and again.


Try this ONE thing


The great thing is that you can apply this model to almost any subject with almost anyone.


It’s your turn. You know that thing that’s been bugging you, that you keep stepping over? Now’s your perfect chance to try this out. Even if it doesn’t go perfectly, it’ll be so much better than avoiding the conversation altogether.


And if you sometimes find that hard, and want a little help, why not try a free coaching call with me to see how I can help. Go here to book.

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