Learn the Art of Handling the Difficult Conversations with Ease!

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We always try to put difficult conversations off. This happens for various reasons. We are scared of the reactions, we avoid fighting. We do not want to sound petty; we simply put off a conversation. Amusingly, the way we address the topic later is far worse than the reasons for which we were avoiding them.

Did you know?

Research conducted on exit interviews states that approximately 50% people leave an organization because of chronic conflicts that were left unresolved.

So how does one handle such a situation?

Let us attempt at discovering our own reasons for avoiding difficult conversations.

 “People almost never change without first feeling understood.”

― Douglas Stone

 

Learning Activity

Are you in a habit of avoiding difficult conversations?

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Why do you usually avoid such conversations? Give 5 reasons.

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What according to you will be the benefits of having a difficult conversation?

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Write 5 things that you will do to have difficult conversations with ease.

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“Explicit disagreement is better than implicit misunderstanding.”

― Douglas Stone

5 Ways to Handle Difficult Conversations Effectively

Here are 5 sure ways of handling difficult conversations that cannot go wrong.

Be Direct But Not Rude 

We try to state things indirectly because we think that the other person might feel bad. Easing off into an uncomfortable conversation is not a good way of handling it. The other person remains confused about what you want to say, you get uncomfortable trying to create sentences that barely communicate what is on your mind.

There is a subtle difference between being direct and being rude. Instead of saying, “Do not make so much noise” and creating a conflict, you could say “could you please be a bit soft”. More often than not, people listen to and appreciate direct comments.

Being direct and polite is the best way to handle such situations.

Use Humor to Cushion the Conversation 

When you really need to strike a difficult conversation, you can use humor as a wonderful tool. Using humor does not mean being indirect. For example, if you want to tell a team member to stay an extra hour for work, you could simply ask him to stay back or you could request him to do it with a tinge of humor.

Humor can sometimes be interpreted otherwise, so make sure you use it with someone who can take it sportily or use it only if you are comfortable using it.

The Problem is Not the Problem, The Problem is that We THINK that There is a Problem 

Usually, people harbor rifts because of the way they felt rather than the issue itself. Rise above the feelings. They almost always come from negative thought patterns in our minds. Think about the solutions rather than the problems and that is the correct way to steer a conversation.

Keep the Solution Focus

No matter what, keep the focus of the conversation on solutions. “You did this, he did that” does not work. What works is “what can we do now?” Device sentences that help you stick to the point. Do not give value judgment. For example, if a person is making noise, request him to stop making noise instead of saying you always do this!

Delve Into The Issues and Tackle the Real Issue

Root cause analysis is the best way to handle conflicts. See what started the rift and then deal with the problem. Is the problem a result of your own fears and apprehensions or is it a clash of personalities? More often than not, you will find out that problems are caused by our habits and mindset and our inability to keep our focus on the solutions.

Simply understanding why a conversation seems difficult and how you can make your team member comfortable will make the conversation much easier to handle.

 “The single most important thing [you can do] is to shift [your] internal stance from “I understand” to “Help me understand.” Everything else follows from that. . . .

“The urge to blame is based . . . on the fear of being blamed.”

― Douglas Stone

 

Activity Sheepdog trials
preparation A blindfold for each participant
running time 10-15 minutes
Environment space to move around for long distances, ideally outdoors.
Teams two teams, any size
Instruction Divide the group into two teams. The objective of the warm up is for a shepherd to guide his flock of sheep into a pen. The control of the sheep must be through whistles or nonsense words (such as huuurrrrrr) and not through commands of left or right etc. give each team time to establish their signals. The teams choose one team member as the shepherd. A pen – this should be set up by the shepherds. This need not be sophisticated. The sheep (the remaining team members) are taken some distance away and put on blindfolds. The shepherds then guide the sheep into the pen.
Feedback This activity relies on having lots of space- usually available (and wasted) outdoors. It would be possible to run in a large hall but we havent tried it. It also provides harmless amusement for the staff or other users of the same venue.
Outcome Aside from the fun there are a lot of lessons about the value of thorough preparation in this activity. It can be particularly instructive if one team takes significantly longer than the other.

To keep yourself motivated like our Facebook Page Daily Motivation by Dr. Vivek Bindra and subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more Inspirational videos.

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