Simmer Down: Managing Difficult Conversations

It is inevitable that you will have to have some tough conversations at some point.  It is easy to try to avoid them or to say the wrong thing.  I’ve worked through some tips to get be prepared to have these conversations when they arise.

Simmer Down

  1. Don’t procrastinate.  As hard as it can be to have a challenging conversation, it is best to start the discussion soon while the topic is timely.
  2. Plan ahead.  Prepare your talking points and be prepared with examples if necessary.  Stick to facts and avoid emotions.  For example, if you have a vendor who is consistently late, then be prepared with the number of times that they have been late.
  3. Make your request.  Be clear and concise.  In the above example where you have a vendor that is consistently late, communicate your expectations (I expect my order to be processed by the agreed timeline or I expect that any delays would be communicated to me in advance).
  4. Clarify consequences if the behavior or issue continues (I will need to find an alternative vendor).
  5. Follow through.  If you say that you will find an alternative vendor if orders aren’t delivered timely, you must do it.  Not following through with your consequences lets the vendor know that you will tolerate being walked on.

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