Think for a moment about a conversation you really should have – with a friend that upset you, a team member that repeatedly under-delivers, a partner you don’t love any more. Are you avoiding it because you assume it will be difficult? You may be right – these conversations often are difficult. And sometimes they’re not.
There are all sorts of wonderful skills and techniques you can learn that have a massive impact on how you have ‘difficult’ conversations but if I were to pick the one thing that makes all the difference it would be your intent. Try this…
Before you tackle something tricky, have a really honest chat with yourself. What is your true intent for the conversation? Is it to get back at your friend and upset them – albeit in a subtle way – OR, is to let them know their comments hurt you and to work together to make it better for both of you? Is your intent with the team member to lay down the law OR to find out what is behind their underperformance and see how you can support them to get better or move on? What about your partner? Is your intent to make them feel responsible for the deterioration of the relationship or to tell them how you feel and end things respectfully between you?
I can’t promise that all these conversations will be easy. What I can tell you is that if you really push yourself to ensure the good of your intent for any difficult conversation, and you share it from the start, it will make a huge difference. Try it.