During the breaks at a conference, where I was the keynote speaker, several participants sought guidance. They walked away with scripts for upcoming and challenging conversations along with a caveat, You can only do your best with your fifty percent of the conversation. There is no guarantee how the other person is going to respond or react. Hard conversations are hard!
Below are scripts to assist in your next difficult interface.
Tips for Hard, Difficult Conversations:
- Confront privately, congratulate publicly.
- Choose or negotiate a convenient time for both people.
- Minimize the use of the words you, never, always, and fault.
- Listen as much or more than you talk.
One: You have a problem with someone’s behavior
When an employee, co-worker or personal connection causes you difficulty.
1) Own the problem: I have a problem I’d like to discuss. Is this a good time?
2) Name the offended value–honesty, commitment, respect, timeliness, etc: Honesty is important to me. When I’m given information that is incorrect it creates problems.
3) Describe the behavior: When I was heard/saw …………….(describe what happened)
4) Name the consequence for you: The consequence for me was ……………………..
5) Listen: Tell me your experience.
6) Invite cooperation: I am open to hearing how we might solve this problem.
1) Level One: Ask clarifying questions: You sound angry. What exactly did I do that you want changed? Will you say that another way?
2) Level Two: I value being treated respectfully. I will no longer participate in verbal abuse. Please speak to me calmly.
3) Level Three (if Step Two did not result in calm): Stop! I will come back in fifteen minutes when you are calm. Then follow through!
4) Level Four (if Step Three did not result in calm): Stop! Speak civilly or I will leave. Then follow through!
5) Level Five (if Step Four did not result in calm) say, Stop. I do not feel safe in your presence. Goodbye. Then follow through!
Three: You are over involved in some else’s work or decision making
Micromanaging others—employees, co-workers, friends or family.
1) Resign verbally or in writing. I realize how competent and resourceful you are. I have erred in, perhaps, giving you the impression I believe you are incompetent. I apologize for doing for you what you are quite capable of doing yourself. I resign from doing that. However, I am here if you need my support or listening ear.
- I care about you and know you are capable.
- I will listen to your problem without making it mine to solve.
2) Listen to the response or reaction.
3) Repeat, especially if they doubt your word or want to hook you back into rescuing them: I have resigned.
Four: You have a problem saying No
Practise with minor issues and safe people. Say, No.
Alternatives to no include:
1) Thank you for asking, but no.
2) It is not good for me to say ‘yes’.
3) My plate is full so I will delegate this request.
4) The consequences of saying ‘yes’ are detrimental to my health (or other risk factors to you, others or the organization).
5) If you need something stronger–It is not in my best interest emotionally, mentally or physically to say ‘yes’.
6) A drastic alternative—I quit!
1) Offer assistance:
- I will call once a week to see how you are doing. Does that work for you?
- I will pick you up and take you to lunch. When will that work for you?
2) Ask: How can I help?
3) Listen: That sounds hard. Tell me some more. . . Tell me some more.
4) Avoid saying, I know how you feel. It is better to seek to understand how the other feels.
Six: When you need/want help
Choose a wise mentor, co-worker or friend.
1) I have a problem and I don’t need advice. I know my options. What I want is attentive listening. Are you willing to listen? When is a good time?
2) I have a problem. In the past your wise counsel and ideas were very helpful. Are you willing to listen and give me advice? When is a good time for you?
Do you have a difficult situation for which you would appreciate a script? Send it my way and I will assist you with that difficult conversation!