Whether you’re giving bad news to a CEO, firing a subordinate, pushing back on a peer perspective or defending your position from aggressive challenges, having difficult conversations is part of being a leader. While these conversations aren’t always enjoyable, the appropriate mindset, clarity and preparation can make you highly effective in achieving your desired result and, at the same time, enhance your standing as a leader.
- Get the facts.
It’s important to always make sure you have the relevant facts. Finding out in the course of the conversation that your facts are wrong makes an already difficult conversation worse—plus you instantly lose credibility and probably damage the relationship. Before the conversation, do your homework. Look for objective facts, talk to people with different perspectives on the issue, and consider alternative explanations. If you know that your facts are incomplete, acknowledge that at the start of the conversation and invite the other person to fill in the gaps before you launch into making your points.
- Clarify your intentions.
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