Magazine article HRMagazine

How to Handle Difficult Conversations

Magazine article HRMagazine

How to Handle Difficult Conversations

Article excerpt

Some conversations are just hard to have. Like telling two of three applicants for a promotion that they won't be getting one, or speaking up about how unproductive your company's meetings are.

Andrea Lee, CEO of Thought Partners International and author of We Need to Talk: Your Guide to Challenging Business Conversations (Thought Partners International, 2015), has a simple formula for removing the emotion and friction from difficult discussions. She suggests focusing on three questions:

* Where are we now?

* Where are we going?

* How would we like to get there?

The questions can be a game changer because they tease out the motivations of all sides, without favoritism. "Without them, there are a lot of assumptions that can be made on both sides, sometimes because of the flavor relationships have taken over the years," she said.

An example of the principle in action: While it could be tantamount to career suicide to say, "This meeting seems really unproductive," no one would fault someone for requesting clarity about goals and expectations. …

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