It's never easy to approach someone about a difficult subject. But it's often necessary to overcome issues at work, home or school. Here's a guide to help you hold a difficult conversation.
Ask before you begin. As much as a difficult conversation may be necessary, a person may not always be ready to handle it. That's why it's a good idea to ask someone's permission before holding a difficult conversation. Find out if it's a good time to talk about your concerns and if it's not, walk away with the resolve to try again another time. Both parties need to be open to having a difficult conversation if you have any hopes of a successful outcome.
Use a gentle approach. Don't spring a harsh comment on an unsuspecting person. Instead, approach difficult conversation gently. Ease into your concerns, speak genuinely and demonstrate your interest in helping the person to make the necessary changes.
Keep other people out of the conversation. At all times, you need to keep difficult conversations professional. Even if everyone else has the same opinion as you, speak only for yourself. Don't involve anyone else in the conversation except those immediately present. It's a professional approach that will earn you the respect of all those involved.
Get to the point. If you find the need to discuss a difficult topic, don't beat around the bush. Be as straightforward and direct as you can when voicing your concerns. The sooner you get to the point of a difficult conversation, the sooner it will be over. So gently focus in on the problem right away so that everyone knows what needs to be dealt with.
Reach an agreement. Before you end a difficult conversation, ensure that you have reached your goal for the discussion. Come to an agreement with the other person that both of you are happy with. Talk about how he will change his behavior if that was your concern. Or make an action plan that has a reasonable deadline. And lay out your decision in writing. That way, both parties will take the difficult conversation seriously.
Follow up. Although you may feel like you want to crawl under a rock after having a difficult conversation with someone, you can't. You've got to make sure that your points were received and acted upon. For this reason, you need to follow-up on the results of your difficult discussion. Make sure that the other person is holding up his side of the deal. If not, you may need to revisit the difficult topic with him.