How to Have A Difficult Work Conversation

Have you ever wanted to bring anything up to a manager or a coworker, but didn’t feel comfortable bringing it up because you don’t like conflict?

Think about what you are going to say and how & when you will bring it up. You don’t have to have a rigid plan, but having some idea of what you will say will help in case you feel stuck or frozen.

-Use “I feel” statements. If you play the blame game, people may become defensive. By making the conversation about you and how you feel, people are less likely to feel as if you are accusing them of something and more likely to listen & possibly adjust their behavior.

-Inquire about the other person to see if you can find out where they are coming from. For example, if you felt that the email they recently sent seemed judgmental, perhaps ask them what the intent was behind the email and be open to their reply! Perhaps they were rushing, or just wanted to relay information and hadn’t realized they sounded so harsh. Also, try to reiterate what they said back to you to show that you are listening and care about what they have to say.

-Use appreciative phrases like “Thank you so much for showing me how I could do a better job on XXX, but I was wondering if you could take a different approach when giving me feedback”. You could also compliment them on the work they do, or anything else you can think of. This always makes people feel appreciated – but make sure you actually mean what you are saying, most people can tell if you are being insincere. Find truth in the compliment you are giving (this technique is called disarming).

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