Canadian Consulting Engineer

Advice for handling difficult conversations

August 22, 2013
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

"Mastering Difficult Conversations" is a training kit published by Columbia Books. Here's the advice it offers in its promotion for the tool:

“Mastering Difficult Conversations” is a training kit published by Columbia Books. Here’s the advice it offers in its promotion for the tool:

“Difficult conversations are stressful enough, so don’t spend time ‘preparing’ for the encounter with worst-case scenario thinking. Instead, ready yourself for difficult conversations with the following in mind:

• Don’t try to read another person’s mind. If you think a co-worker is spreading rumours about you or you expect the worst when your boss asks for an impromptu meeting, you are likely letting your imagination get the better of you. Take a deep breath and relax.

• Don’t predict the future. Thinking about how co-workers may react during a conversation will only add to your anxiety. Keep an open mind and let the discussion unfold naturally.


• Lose the self-righteous attitude. Seeing an upcoming conversation as a burden won’t help the situation. Decide you are going to hear what the other person has to say.

Start conversations off on the right foot with these simple steps:

• Know your goals. Ask yourself “What is my purpose?” and “What do I hope to gain?” Do you want to clarify something, get your way or simply tell someone off?

• Prepare to hear another point of view. And accept that your viewpoint might be wrong.

• Understand the other person’s perspective. Everyone has an opinion, so go into a conversation realizing your own thoughts are based on your opinions — and biases.

• Keep your emotions in check. Never start a conversation off in a highly emotional state. Wait until you can compose yourself — even if you have to postpone the meeting for a few minutes. Then calmly and professionally begin the discussion.

To obtain the kit or for more information, click here.


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