8 Resolutions for Difficult Interpersonal Conversations

Communication and Skills

Best Practices
Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

8 Resolutions for Difficult Interpersonal Conversations

Sometimes a conversation (at work) can be awkward, difficult or not effective, despite of good intentions.

Monique Valcour describes 8 practical techniques you can apply to get a difficult interpersonal conversation “back on track”:
  1. SHIFT THE RELATIONSHIP from opposition to partnership.
    Place yourself in the other person's shoes.
  2. REFRAME YOUR PURPOSE from convincing to learning.
    Don't focus on making the other person adopt your view.
  3. VERBALIZE YOUR INTENTION.
    Tell explicitly what you are trying to achieve with the conversation.
  4. AVOID ASSUMPTIONS.
    Especially about what the other person is "probably" thinking.
  5. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR PART.
    Admit you make/made mistakes too.
  6. LEARN YOUR ABCD'S.
    Avoid Blame, Contempt, Defensiveness and Stonewalling.
  7. Examine difficult issues with OPENNESS AND CURIOSITY.
  8. SEEK INPUT to problem-solving.
    Ask for feedback.
⇒ In what way do you turn a problematic conversation into a more positive one? Thanks for sharing your experiences and tips...

Source: Monique Valcour, "Eight Ways to get a Difficult Conversation Back on Track", HBR Fall 2018, pp.14-15.

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