How to Deal with Difficult Business Conversations

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Taking Care of Procrastinated Conversations

Over the course of running a business, there are going to be many conversations that get procrastinated. These are conversations that you know you “should” have, but don’t.

Perhaps you were a day late on a project and never apologized. Perhaps an employee did something wrong, but you never corrected them. Perhaps you and a vendor have an unclear agreement about payment due dates that hasn’t been cleared up.

These conversations often get avoided because they’re uncomfortable. Instead of tackling them head on, people tend to avoid the discomfort and choose just to put off the conversation instead.

These withheld conversations then take up psychological energy, erode connection and take a serious toll on the overall efficiency of your business. In addition to the interpersonal consequences, there’s also often a real business concern that hasn’t been addressed.

==> Inventory the Conversations You Need to Have

Make a list of everyone who you do business with on a regular basis. Start by listing all your co-workers or employees. Then make a list of all your clients that you interact with regularly. Then make a list of all your vendors or service providers.

Look at your emails over the last couple weeks and add anyone that you interact with regularly.

Look through this list of people and ask yourself if there is a conversation that you need to have with this person. If so, write a little note next to their name about what kind of conversation you need to have.

==> Initiating Difficult Conversations

When you’re initiating a hard yet necessary conversation, make sure it’s clear that you’re doing it in the spirit of clearing the air or resolving an issue.

Make sure they understand they’re not being blamed or attacked. Once they understand that they’re not in trouble and that they’re not under attack, they’ll be less likely to get defensive.

This kind of “soft” approach allows you to handle the issue at hand rather than get stuck in a blame game.

Having these conversations can actually improve a relationship rather than harm it. When there’s something unsaid between two people, it’s hard to have a real connection. Once what needs to be said is out of the way, you can have a real interaction again.

==> Once You’re Done …

Once you’re done with having these conversations, you should feel an immense sense of relief. The air between you and your professional contacts will be much clearer.

Invite other people in your life to initiate conversations that need to happen. If there’s something that needs to be said, make it known that you want it said rather than hidden.

Get in the habit of taking care of unsaid conversations regularly. It’ll make your business and your life run a lot easier.

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Author: jm

Joan Mullally has been doing business online for nearly twenty years and is a pioneer in the fields of online publishing, marketing, and ecommerce. She is the author of more than forty guides designed to help readers make the most of the opportunities the Internet offers for running a successful business.
A student and later teacher trainee of Frank McCourt’s, she has always appreciated the power of the word, and has used her knowledge for successful SEO and PPC campaigns, and powerful marketing copy.
One computer science class at NYU was enough to spark her fascination with all things digital. In her spare time, she works with adult literacy, animal fostering and rescue, and teaching computer skills to women.