Managing Difficult Conversations in The Workplace

Last week, 50 members of Leverton’s IMPACT and Investec’s INSPIRE joined forces over breakfast at Investec Asset Management. The aim was to tackle difficult conversations in the workplace.

The session was led by Investec’s Duncan Coombe, who opened with “What is your relationship to the word conflict? Why did you come here today? What made this event so oversubscribed?”

Each attendee was given a ‘Top Tips’ card, to guide them through managing or holding a difficult conversation:

  1. Be clear about your Key Performance Indicator (KPI)
  2. Silence is powerful
  3. Preserve the relationship – the stronger the bond, the more conflict it can take
  4. Choose where to have the conversation
  5. Know how to begin
  6. Don’t apologise
  7. Conflict is natural
  8. Remember the four sentence rule

With these in mind, the group divided up into subgroups of four to engage in a ‘Real Play’. Two people took it in turns to engage in a difficult conversation they had on their mind. The other two observed and gave feedback on how they could improve. Everyone was given the chance to participate in each role.

Although often referred to with dread, the role play activity was a clever way of making you think about your approach to these types of conversations. Everyone left benefitting from live scenario coaching and feeling like they had upskilled. The result was members looking forward to difficult conversations, so they could practice their new skills for a more direct delivery.

Key Takeaways:

Conflict is normal

Choose the one sentence/message you want to get across in the meeting and…

Practice! Practice! Practice!

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