Monthly Archives: August 2014

7 Tips for Emotional Conversations

Emotional Conversations

How do you prepare for a potentially emotional conversation? Many inexperienced leaders –  and others, too – struggle with this common scenario. Some avoid it. In most every case, reticence to have these discussions leads to stress, anxiety rooted in procrastination and fear, and lost team productivity and effectiveness.

It is in everyone’s best interest to handle these conversations as quickly as possible. Here are some tips that you can use yourself, or to coach others as they prepare.

Have a Plan: Detail everything about the conversation. What will be discussed? When and where will it happen? What is the goal of the conversation?

Deal with it Now: Unnecessary delay has many negative effects. Continued poor performance, the stress that comes from artificial team harmony, and the opportunity cost of spending time thinking about something that should have already been addressed are just the beginning. Deal with it and move on.

Choose Your Setting: Potentially emotional and negative conversations must be held in private. No exceptions. Ensure that privacy is a top priority. Avoid distractions like phones, computers and visitors.

Have a Clear Goal: What does the supervisor expect to change as a result of the talk? While this is part of the plan, it is worthy of its own bullet here because it is that important.

Have Your Facts Ready: Are you having a performance discussion? Use the reports and other tools that you need to make your case. Preparation will lead to an efficient and effective conversation based on facts, rather than a painful and vague discussion built on the sands of assumption.

Don’t Take it Personally: Keep the conversation professional and as dispassionate as possible. People can be naturally defensive, so expect it. This isn’t about you; it’s about the other person.

Keep it Focused and Concise: Don’t try to ease into the conversation with small talk. Greet the person, invite her or him to sit down, and explain why you are initiating the conversation.

Recognize that tough conversations are a part of all our work experiences. Learning how to manage them effectively and calmly can make this unwelcome part of our work lives less onerous.


Learning Dynamics offers learning and development solutions to help your team members become better communicators. Contact us today to discuss your needs.