I recently helped a business owner have a difficult conversation with a key employee. Prior to meeting he was anxious, having known for months it needed to happen. But afterward, he felt incredibly relieved to finally be doing something about the situation. Nothing was resolved in that first conversation; I expect there are several more difficult ones to come. The reality is that nothing will ever be resolved if you don't start.
Do you have a conversation you've been putting off--with a parent, a child, an employee, a brother, a cousin, or an in-law? Just becuase you're not talking about the elephant in the room doesn't mean it's not about to trample you!
How do you prepare for the difficult conversation?
- Reflect on what you want to accomplish. Is it to make him/her aware of how serious you perceive the problem to be? Do you have a solution to suggest, or do you want to brainstorm together? Are you asking him/her to commit to something?
- Use an objective format for providing feedback. 1) Make an observation about a specific action. 2) Describe the impact it is having. 3) Suggest what action or behavior you'd like to see.
- Realize that you are prepared for the discussion, but the other person may not be. If he/she looks overwhelmed or blindsided, keep the content of the first meeting limited but commit to a time to continue the conversation.
Inertia can be a powerful force, but so is the nagging at the back of your head every day that the situation is growing from a headache to a migraine. You gotta start somewhere...