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How to Handle Difficult Conversations at Work

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This week’s Friday Resource was originally published by Harvard Business Review and details how to handle difficult work situations.

Difficult conversations and situations are part of our lives. For those in a management role, these conversations can be more common than you’d like.  Whether you are delivering bad news to a client, or having a performance review conversation with a direct report – it’s no easy task.

The difficult nature of these conversations can force some people to avoid them altogether, which is a mistake. These conversations help us grow – as leaders, employees and people. So instead of avoiding them, learn how to handle them in a way that produces a better outcome for both parties.

A few tips to help you get there:

    1. Plan but don’t recite. You should never go into a tough conversation unprepared, however you should not read from a script. The conversation will rarely go exactly as planned and it is unfair for your counterpart to not be prepped for their part in your conversation.


    1. Reflect. This is something we rarely have time for in our busy lives, yet is one of the best tools that the greatest leaders use regularly. Make time to reflect on what went well and what can be improved for your next fierce conversation.


The bulk of these tips are from Jean-Francois Manzoni, professor of human resources and organizational development at INSEAD, and can help you take on a fierce conversation. Now it’s up to you to have it.

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