Difficult conversations are inevitable in the workplace because employees have a range of personalities, and friction can happen between them. If blood relatives misunderstand each other from time to time, it’s not surprising that colleagues who have no deep relationship do so. Difficult conversations stem from stressful circumstances, and leaders must work hard to ease tension. An aptitude for conversation is crucial to a management role. Here are three skills that can help business leaders navigate difficult conversations.
It is vital for leaders to possess top-notch problem-solving skills because it is an asset in diffusing difficult conversations. The key here is to pay close attention to details that are being said. Calmly address all the issues raised and tackle each one logically. Situations on the verge of escalating need a sound mind that is alert and objective. Being too emotional during stressful situations will impair judgment. For employees to show trust and respect for their superiors, the leaders must keep their emotions and biases in check in order to make impartial decisions.
Often, it is not what is said but how it said that makes a world of difference. Effective communication skills are critical assets for all leaders to possess. When the people at odds are unable to explain themselves precisely, it can exacerbate an already stressful situation. Communication doesn’t just refer to the words being said. It has a lot to do with the non-verbal aspects as well. These include tone of voice, hand gestures, posture, stance and expressions in the eyes. The words uttered may be factual, but if they are spoken with an angry tone, a raised eyebrow or a belligerent stance, things tend to go downhill fast. Strong communication skills are critical for building trust and respect.
Difficult conversations need leaders who have cultivated the ability to listen well. Authentic listening means not just going through the motions of hearing someone. Truly listening includes comprehending unpalatable things. It is important to absorb criticisms so that improvements can be made. No relationship can ever be mended if the parties do not know how to listen to each other. There will be many sides of the story, and for leaders to see the big picture, they need to hear out all versions. The purpose of listening is not to rebut the other party, but to repair the situation.
Remove the difficulties from difficult conversations by honing these essential skills. People who are in the workforce are already mature adults who must be able to face each other without resorting to verbal shoving matches. As a leader, emphasize to the team that the point of talking to one other is not confrontation. Conversation is dialogue that is meant for engagement in order to arrive at solutions.
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