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  • Writer's pictureClara Wajngurt

How To Have a Difficult Conversation?

I recently read an excellent article-Four Things To Do Before A Tough Conversation (Grenny, 2019).. It is about how we as managers, supervisors, staff and others have to grapple with difficult judgments and decisions in the course of our work lives and privately.

A quick summary, Randy has been working at a company for nine years. His work output has been marginal-but he has been likeable and sociable. His team is in a state of disarray because they have not gotten the proper leadership from Randy. The manager is having a conversation with Randy at 2 pm where she plans to fire him. 

How do you do this? What to do? Does the manager concentrate on her concerns and whether she is  clear to Randy? The success you have with such conversations is dependent more on what you do before you have this important conversation. 1. Get Your motives straight: By avoiding conflict with Randy over the years, and hearing incessant complaints from Randy's coworkers---the manager compromised her ability to save Randy's job-frustrated the team and lost customers. Ask yourself-What do I really want? What do I want for me.. what do I want for my other colleagues... what do I want for my customers? 2. Get your emotions straight: Should the manager come to the conversation angry, hurt or defensive? Should the manager behave as a victim-with an attitude I could have helped Randy more? Or should I make Randy into a villain-well Randy did not fix his situation-he is just lazy and unmotivated. Stay away from the victim and villain stories---become an actor-and treat Randy with respect. Ask yourself-What am I pretending not to know about my role in this? How does a rational person behave in Randy's situation? What is expected here? 3. Gather the facts: The conversation is starting with opposing viewpoints. I am  getting Randy fired and Randy wants to stay. Share the facts that led up to this conclusion. Describe the data you have. Build your case patiently and honestly. 4. Be curious: Bring to this conversation confidence-listen to what Randy has to say. Be open to information that might persuade your decision. By having this attitude we can all approach our difficult conversations in a mature manner.


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