There are many conversations, particularly in business, that we wish we didn't have to endure. For example, an employer rarely looks forward to firing someone or telling them that their performance last quarter wasn't up to par. However, professionals must be able to decide when it is and isn't appropriate to have tough conversations and deal with the issue gracefully and respectfully.

Professionals must be able to decide when it is and isn't appropriate to have tough conversations.

It might also happen that two colleagues are engaging in such a conversation and perhaps not handling it with the necessary grace or respect. In this case, it is important for other employees to have the conflict management skills to defuse the situation and guide the conversation to safer waters.

Here is some more information that will help you determine when these kinds of conversations are necessary, as well as navigate the discussion as tactfully as possible.

Knowing when to have a difficult talk

When deciding whether or not to engage in a potentially unpleasant conversation, it's important to make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. For example, if an employee or colleague is doing something against the rules or otherwise unsavory that could impact the business, that's a good enough reason to initiate a conversation.

Accusatory or negative discussions shouldn't be initiated out of spite or anger; when feeling emotional about an issue, wait until you have calmed down and can consider the problem (and potential solutions) rationally. However, this doesn't mean putting off the problem for an extended period of time – if an issue is important, it needs to be addressed as soon as possible, according to Acas UK.

Difficult conversations shouldn't involve finger-pointing or accusatory speech.Difficult conversations shouldn't involve finger-pointing or accusatory speech.

How do I navigate tough conversations?

There are many different ways to handle stressful or unpleasant discussions, and everyone has their own approach. The most important thing is to breathe, have a positive attitude and focus on relaying the necessary information before presenting (or asking for) solutions.

According to Harvard Business Review, professionals should try to acknowledge the other person's point of view, listen attentively, offer suggestions and try to learn something from the situation. A solution will only be reached when both parties collaborate to find it.

Conflict management capabilities, as well as other integral professional skills, might seem impossible to achieve, but there are training courses that can give you the expertise you need. Reach out to Artisan Consulting today for more information!