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Difficult Conversation- Do they get easier?

I’ve been involved in a lot of difficult conversations, both personal and professional. While they say practice makes perfect, I’m not sure that difficult conversations get much easier over time. With each new awkward situation or workplace challenge that I have encountered, I’ve had to think about how to handle the logistics of the situation, what missteps I have personally made, what solutions I can propose, and how to be respectful and positive throughout the situation. The common thread that I experience every time is that it’s hard to swallow the lump in my throat, especially if I’m disappointed in myself on top of being frustrated.
But I think that tuning into my emotions also the key to handling situations with more humility and empathy, and ultimately building trust with your teammates, leaders, and clients, as well as friends and family members. In any situation, take a deep breath. Set aside the frustrating things that someone else is doing (for the moment) and assess your own role in the situation. What can you do better? How can you avoid missteps the next time something like this comes up? Then return to the other person’s actions. How can you help the other person adjust their actions? How can you course-correct and set the whole team up for success?
When you focus on the success of the larger team, keeping in mind that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, then your difficult conversation becomes focused on a common goal instead of being a “me versus them.” I have been fortunate to work with a lot of colleagues who share this mentality and it completely transforms workplace culture.
– Lauren Schultz, RBW Strategy Team Member
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