5 Keys to Difficult Conversations
by Christie Love
June 16th, 2016
I have had the privilege of working with many leaders over the years, and I have discovered an often-overlooked commonality among the most effective leaders: their willingness to have difficult conversations. Great leaders understand that a large part of a leader’s role is to recognize problems with people and proactively address them before they become problems for the rest of the team.
Difficult conversations are not fun or easy; however, if you want to maintain a healthy organization, they cannot be avoided. Here are five quick keys to developing the skill of tackling tough talks:
1. Be willing: I have known too many leaders who are simply not willing to have difficult conversations. They do not want to rock the boat or risk making other people under their leadership upset. As a result they turn a blind eye to problems and potential opportunities for the sake of their comfort and the comfort of others. While this may seem like the easier way, it is not the effective way. Leaders who are willing to have challenging conversations are those that are the catalyst to change and growth.
2. Be prayerful: Once you recognize that a difficult conversation is needed, began praying over the issue, the people involved, and wisdom to know the best way to address the situation. James 1:5 instructs believers, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (NLT). Difficult conversations demand wisdom, and the greatest source of wisdom is prayer.
3. Be quick: Prayer is the first step to dealing with a difficult situation; however, be careful to not allow prayer to turn into procrastination. Wise leaders know that problems need to be addressed in a timely manner so that the conversation is relevant and applicable. Allowing a problem to drag on and on before sitting down to talk about it will only lead to greater damage to relationships and potentially to the reputation of an organization or leader.
4. Be direct and respectful: When you sit down to have a difficult conversation, be clear and direct in outlining the issue and the impact of it. Be specific; don’t try to dance around the problem. As you talk about the issue directly with the people involved, do so in a way that is respectful and solution-seeking. Your goal in this conversation is not just to deal with the problem, but to help everyone involved to grow as a result of it.
5. Be a coach: This final key is what separates good leaders and great leaders from one another. Good leaders will have the difficult conversation and then expect the situation to change; however, great leaders will have difficult conversations and then invest time and energy into following up and coaching the people involved in adapting to needed change and adjustments.
Christie Love is the Founder and Executive Director of LeadHer, an international women's ministry that strives to challenge women to grow in their faith, leadership, and influence through local chapters. You can learn more about LeadHer and how to start or connect with a local chapter at www.leadher.org. You can connect with Christie personally on Twitter at @ChristieLLove.
More of Christie Love: http://www.leadher.org/