Expert insight: Tackling tough conversations

Easy for you to say: The Hard Talk Handbook
By Lubna Hamdan
Wed 14 Mar 2018 09:31 AM

Most people do not have difficult conversations because they do not enjoy them. Instead, they silence themselves until they cannot contain their feelings, at which point they speak up ineffectively.

Executive coach and author of The HardTalk Handbook, Dawn Metcalfe, tells us how to have difficult conversations in an easier and more effective manner.

1. Prepare

Preparation is key to everything, including difficult conversations. Prepare yourself mentally by being self-aware of your feelings, and disciplined enough to exhibit them to the other person in a way that helps rather than hinders you. This includes speaking calmly and keeping an open mind.

2. Focus on the end goal

Think about what you want to achieve by having the conversation, rather than acting on your emotions in the moment. So, you might roll your eyes at a colleague after a disagreement, but if your goal is to build a good relationship, you might need to rethink your actions. Monitor your behaviour and ask yourself, “Will this get me the results I want?”

3. Consider the other person

Most conversations are difficult because of disagreements when each participant is seeking to influence the other. To manage your partner in conversation, consider their opinion so you can better understand why they behave in the way they do. Even if you do not agree with them, you have a better chance at getting them to compromise if you understand them.

4. Listen

Before you rush to explain your side of the story, make sure you listen to your partner first. They are then more likely to listen to you too. This saves both sides a lot of stress and hassle.

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