When you are avoiding a hard conversation with a boss, colleague, or subordinate, it is usually because you don’t know how to start the conversation. You worry that once you open your mouth, things will begin to fall apart.
Hard conversations do not have to be dealt hard. The good news is that the conversation falling apart is not likely to happen if you go in softer versus harder.
When I say softer, I mean tempering the language you are using to make the message easier to hear and filled with multiple futures versus one future. Here are some softer language examples:
- Instead of saying “Here is what you must do in order to succeed,” you could consider going in softer and saying “Here are a few options of things you can consider doing in order to be more successful.”
- Instead of asking “What were you thinking when you did that?” you could consider going in softer and asking “When you did what you did today, what were some things you were thinking that supported your choice?”
- Instead of “I was very disappointed in what I saw today,” you could consider going in softer and saying “I don’t think what I saw today reflects your best effort. Can you share with me some ideas on how you can do it more effectively in the future?”
Try it! Softer language makes hard conversations easier to do.