Some conversations are difficult to handle, especially when it comes to workplace situations. These aren’t discussions that can be delayed for any length of time. In many cases, these are time sensitive topics, so how do you prepare to confront these issues?

Focus on What You Hope to Achieve

While you may know that the conversation will be difficult, focusing on that can unnerve you. Instead, pay more attention to what you hope the conversation will accomplish. In addition to resolving a situation that may be affecting workplace safety, productivity, or employee morale, you’ll also be able to eliminate the stress that dreading this conversation has been creating.

Know Your Desired Outcomes

For any situation, there are many possible outcomes. By analyzing the problem and considering the possible resolutions, you can determine which outcomes you would most prefer. This will help you plan out the conversation in a way that will help you lead to your desired outcomes.

Articulate the Reasons for Wanting a Behavioral Change

Another aspect of the conversation to assess is your motive for wanting the specific behavior to change. The reason this is so important is that you don’t want to turn the conversation into an accusation against the other party. Instead of placing blame, try to explain how the problematic behavior is affecting the business. This can lead to a more productive discussion.

Start with an Effective Opening Sentence

As with any type of communication, your introductory sentence should state your theme powerfully and concisely. In addition to determining what you want to say, the process of crafting your opening sentence should also involve practicing it. Say it over and over until you’re satisfied with how it will sound. Stating your intentions fluently will help you maintain control of the conversation from the very beginning.

Know How You Expect the Behavior to Change

The conversation should end with an agreement that the behavior will change. In some cases, you should see an immediate change in the employee’s conduct. For instance, an employee who is consistently late in returning to work from breaks can be expected to eliminate this type of tardiness instantly. On the other hand, the employee may need time, additional training, or other types of assistance, making change a gradual process. An example of this might be an employee who hasn’t been performing his job duties as efficiently as expected. Additional training can help him improve over time.

It’s human nature to try to avoid unpleasant confrontations. Even so, you know that your role as a leader or manager depends on your ability to handle difficult situations promptly and tactfully. By preparing for these conversations in advance, you’ll be better equipped to handle challenging conversations.