We all know the feeling – knowing that you need to have a difficult conversation with someone, but not wanting to jump in.  The longer you go on dreading it, the worse it gets.  So resolve to tackle difficult conversations quickly.  Here’s a few tips from Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler’s seminal work Crucial Conversations:

Work on Yourself First

Make sure you are in the right place and emotional state to have the conversation.  Also take the time to think about your part in whatever problem is occurring.  If you walk into a conversation thinking you are 100% right and the other person is 100% wrong, the other person will see instantly how you are perceiving the situation. See the situation from the other person’s perspective – you might disagree with what they see, but you need to respect their point of view.

Focus on What You Really Want

I often ask myself: what do I want the other person to say in this situation?  Sometimes, that’s as simple as “I’m sorry” sometimes it’s a more complex compromise.  Regardless, it’s helpful to have a clear picture of your goal as you enter the conversation.  

Create Mutual Purpose

Having a shared starting point is incredibly important to difficult conversations.  So begin with the purpose that you and the other person share.  Often in education, both people think what they are doing is best for the students so that can be a good place to start.  The authors suggest explicitly committing to that purpose in the beginning of your conversation.

Let us know how these difficult conversations go and any other tips you come up with! 

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