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Susan Brooks

7 Steps to make a Tough (Courageous) Conversation Easier
August 2018

One of the toughest hurdles as a business owner is learning how to address the most challenging situations that seem to come up from every corner, whether it be the challenging customer to the difficult employee, there is always something to navigate, carefully and deliberately. It was David Whyte, known as the Corporate Guru, that first introduced the concept of "courageous conversations."

"The courageous conversation is the one you don't want to have." – David Whyte

It's the one that makes your palms sweat or keeps you up at night...like telling an adversarial colleague that you don't appreciate her sarcastic comments at a shared meeting you both attend.

It's the one that feels vulnerable...like telling a client that there was a big mistake in fulfilling his order.

It's the one that could have major consequences...like telling a key staff member that a decision he made cost your company thousands of dollars and a lost customer.

Whatever the issue, your efforts to express your feelings and your sense of self, have to be addressed and resolved to move forward. In order to support a win/win outcome, it's best to have a plan.

Here are 7 Steps to make a Tough (Courageous) Conversation Easier:

  1. Call the meeting in a neutral location.
  2. Have a strategy. Get to the point quickly and present solutions. The goal here is to agree on a specific action moving forward.
  3. Speak from 'I' vs 'You.' Using the word 'You' puts the other person in a defensive position.
  4. Identify the issue. Describe the behavior that is at the crux of the problem. The more specific you can be, the more this helps the other person know exactly what you are talking about.
  5. Describe the benefit for the other person from this new requested action.
  6. Come to an agreement...or continue to discuss until you do. Alignment is the goal here.

Confirm with a handshake or another connection. "I really appreciate your reception and willingness in having this courageous conversation with me."

These courageous conversation tips apply to your personal scenarios as well!

Susan Brooks
 
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