We’ve all been there. We know we have to have a hard conversation–with an employee, colleague, partner or client. And there are usually 3 outcomes.

Either we push off the conversation hoping the situation will improve; we have the conversation but end it wishing we’d said more, been more forceful, stated our points more clearly; or we end it wishing we hadn’t said so much, hadn’t been so forceful/emotional//insert adjective.

What if there were a fourth outcome? One in which both you and the other person leave feeling heard and valued, with clarity about the problem and an agreed upon path toward resolution?

It requires

  1. Preparation: Setting up an agreed upon time for the conversation; writing down your feelings and perspective on the conversation and those of the other; writing down your goals for the conversation and what you’d like to say; anticipating the responses of the other.
  2. Perseverance: Pushing through the awkwardness to speak the truth with love, after the other person has felt heard and understood. And pushing through to discuss what is needed to address the problem and the next steps you both will follow.
  3. Perspective: Once you’ve had the conversation, you’ll feel a range of emotions, from relief, to frustration, sadness, hopefulness. it’s important to reflect on how you feel, what you can learn and perhaps what you could have done differently. And it’s also important to celebrate what you’ve done–you’ve just done something that most everyone shies away from!

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