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30 Notes About Critical Conversations

I took a training class on how to handle difficult conversations. Sharing the points most important to me.

  1. Goal – become a thinking partner in a collaborative relationship
  2. Need to learn to listen – not just steamroll, try to save time. If you are directive all the time people don’t feel valued.
  3. Learn how to say no – but nobody likes to say no. So say “here’s what I can do”
  4. Learn not to appear frustrated – coming from private sector you expect things to get done faster
  5. Be specific, be clear
  6. Things to remember – to help someone feel valued, they need to feel heard
  7. What makes a conversation critical – action needs to be taken, subject is important, there is a threat or risk if action not taken
  8. Include milestones in the conversation – don’t let it be vague
  9. Essential to ask – are we aiming towards the same goal
  10. How do you deal with hidden agendas? (In the form of withholding knowledge, because knowledge is power.) Depends on the situation, the position of the person you’re dealing with. Question your assumptions.
  11. What assumption do you have about others’ hidden agenda?
  12. What makes a critical conversation successful? Engagement, information is conveyed, you wind up on the same page – you agree on the goal, the problem, the issue – meeting of the minds
  13. Use questions to draw them people out – like: “What would help you feel comfortable in this situation in order to move forward?”
  14. The key is to ask without making people feel defensive.
  15. DO NOT SAY: “I don’t understand what your problem is”
  16. Three types of critical conversation – giving negative feedback, difficult message, collaborating
  17. CARE = collaborate, ask questions and listen, respond with ownership and action, empathize
  18. When you can’t change the decision, you can converse about what the impact is and how we can handle it
  19. When people resist your input, think about the angle you can take – what works with them – what are they listening to.
  20. The key is do they trust what you’re telling them.
  21. Also, some people just don’t care.
  22. Metrics often helpful.
  23. Understand your span or sphere of control.
  24. Listen to what they’re not telling you
  25. The BEST communication process: build rapport, exchange information, seek agreement, take action
  26. We all have triggers – when you’re triggered, you can be aware and make a decision about how to react – you have to learn to manage yourself properly
  27. Don’t ask “are there any questions,” (nobody will ask) ask “what questions are there?”
  28. To build rapport, be authentic; keep commitments; acknowledge if past track record isn’t good.
  29. Exchange information – know your purpose; ask; listen; check for facts and feelings; clarify what you  hear
  30. State your intention and expectations, e.g. “I am your advocate – I want you to be successful”

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