As a manager, you will inevitably have to have difficult conversations with your team. Whether it’s talking about performance, discipline, or feedback, having difficult conversations is part and parcel of being in a managerial role. It’s important to approach these conversations with care and empathy, while also making sure that the message is clear and actionable. Here are my tips on how you can navigate difficult conversations as a manager.  

Prepare in Advance. 

One of the best ways to prepare for a difficult conversation is to plan ahead. Take some time before the conversation to think through what you want to say, how you want to say it, and what outcome you want from the conversation. Think about how the conversation might progress. Doing this will help you maintain control over the conversation and ensure that it progresses in the way that you intended. It will also help you stay focused on your main points instead of getting sidetracked by emotion or tangents.  

Stay Calm & Collected 

It’s easy to get emotional when discussing something that could potentially be uncomfortable or contentious. However, staying calm is key when navigating any kind of conflict resolution situation. Try your best to remain composed throughout the conversation so that you can keep things on track and ensure that everyone involved is able to express their thoughts without fear of repercussion or judgment. This will create an environment where both parties feel heard and respected which is essential for successful conflict resolution. What are your calming techniques? I recommend speaking slowly, emphasise the words with your mouth to slow matters so it provides time to think… and of course breathe! 

Be Clear and Direct  

When having a difficult conversation as a manager, it’s important to ensure that everyone involved understands exactly what is being discussed and why it matters. Be direct with your language so that there isn’t any confusion about what needs to be done or how the situation should be handled going forward. Make sure your message is clear and concise so that everyone understands their role in resolving any issues at hand.  

In Summary… 

Having difficult conversations as a manager can be stressful but with proper preparation and an understanding of appropriate communication techniques, they don’t have to be overwhelming experiences. By preparing in advance, staying calm and collected during the discussion, and being clear with your language, you can ensure successful conflict resolution while maintaining respect between all parties involved. With these tips in mind, managing difficult conversations will become second nature! 

If you would like support or assistance to have a mediated conversation, do get in contact with us here at Bower HR. 

Serena Bower (MCIPD) 

Director, Bower HR Limited 

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