14Reaching Resolution:

How to Have Tough Conversations Without Damaging Relationships

In the last chapter we talked about why it’s so crucial for leaders to be able to handle conflict and have tough conversations. We also touched on the “how” from a 10,000-foot-view perspective. Now I want to get more granular. How, exactly, do we have difficult conversations with employees, partners, vendors, and others in the workplace?

The goal with tough conversations is twofold. One, you want to solve a problem. Two, you want to do it without damaging your relationship with the other person.

An organization is simply a network of strong, collaborative, mutually beneficial adult relationships. The better the relationships, the better the company. The good news is that tough conversations can actually strengthen relationships and help both parties grow personally and professionally if you handle them the right way.

Before you go into a tough conversation, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Am I being fair and consistent? It’s important that you don’t have one set of rules for one person and a different set for another.
  2. Am I too focused on being “right”? Just because you may disagree with someone doesn’t mean they are wrong. People have different experiences and points of view. Life isn’t always about “right” or “wrong.” When you have that attitude, you probably won’t even listen to what the other person is saying.
  3. Do I need to call in a witness, document the conversation, or consider ...

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