Having Hard Conversations Without Hard Feelings

Have you have ever had to mentor or lead that included hard conversations? If you haven’t then you are rare. Most do because change includes havimg hard looks at ourselves and our teams. This can be conversations that they are passionate about or even about aspects of their personality that is hurting the team.

So how do you have hard discussions without creating hard feelings?

1. Frame the conversation

It is important from the start, you let them know that the meeting may be difficult because the topics can seem emotionally charged. Let them know you are not attacking and want this to be productive. That will only happen if the dialogue stays open. That means both being able to give and receive feedback.

2. Keep emotionally neutral

This can be hard especially if you are already frustrated or angry about the situation. Keeping yourself even keeled whether you are giving or receiving feedback, will allow you to objectively handle the discussion and see both points of view. If you feel yourself getting defensive, acknowledge it and let yourself recognize that you are feeling this way because something is being triggered. It is okay to also say that you want to wait or write down your thoughts to the feedback so you can emotionally calm down before responding.

3. Do not let fear of criticism make criticism negative.

If you are afraid to make mistakes or not be perfect, criticism no longer seems like a point to grow. It seems like an attack. True and objective criticism rarely is though and it is important you do not create an expectation of something or someone prior to actually being confronted with it.

Are these discussions easy? No. I have hard time myself. They are necessary and vital to your overall growth and that of your team.

And remember, you are not responsible for someone else’s ability to take feedback. If you are remaining objective, vulnerable, and compassionate but the other person is responding aggressive, guarded, and toxic; let it go. You cannot change or force anyone to grow.


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