How to say difficult things well

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Due to our backgrounds and life experience we all come to difficult conversations with a skill set that can be a mixed bag of poor, good or excellent tools. Developing our skills to give ourselves excellent abilities to dialogue with others is a most important aim for our own development.

It is:

  • very easy to talk about easy subjects badly,
  • possible to talk about easy and hard subjects badly
  • but saying the hard things well is very much an art for leaders.

Here are some tips on personal communication that will help us to be great communicators.

  • Win people, not arguments
  • Stay positive even when its negative
  • Aim to always create ways for people to talk safely about what concerns them
  • When it is going badly, pause to consider how you can make the conversation safe again and dialogue flow before continuing
  • Reflect on your performance after a challenging conversation and consider ways to improve
  • Observe people to see them say things well, get observed, observe and critique your staff!

Some great resources

  • Crucial Conversations (Patterson, Grenny, Mcmillan, Switzler ISBN 0071771328), is a very helpful book in this regard in exploring this subject and showing how to improve skills in creating great dialogue over difficult subjects.
  • The series of articles on Mapping Dialogue also gives a variety of techniques that help build dialogue in challenging and non-challenging environments.