Critical Conversations For Dummies
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Critical conversations are not just about what you should do during the discussion. Unfortunately, poor attitudes and stressed relationships show up again and again during conversations. Even the best critical conversation can include its share of problems. This table shows a few solutions to some of the more common pitfalls.

Problem Solution Examples
One-sided conversation Acknowledge the behavior and then redirect the conversation. “Thanks for that information Kathy. I know many things can get in the way of getting work done, so let’s come up with a plan for how to remove the three main barriers you talked about [acknowledge what was said]. More could come up, but I recommend we start with these three. What do you see as some potential solutions [redirect the conversation to the next step]?”
Distracted audience Ask questions about what is happening.

Be respectful.

Help people think.
“Ted, you look confused. Is there a part of the goal would be helpful for me to go over in more depth?”

“Sue, I see you are spending lots of time on your phone during meetings. I know everyone is busy. Is there anything I can do to help you be part of the conversation?”

“Dan, I would love to hear your opinion. What are your ideas on how to solve the problem?”
A lack of trust Trust builder #1: Give meaningful feedback.

Trust builder #2: Be authentic

Trust builder #3: Speak now.

Trust builder #4: Keep commitments.
“I plan on researching more about the issue, and will give you an update in next Monday.”

“I honestly don’t know the answer, but I am happy to try to find the solution.”

“Are you open to feedback about the meeting this morning?”
Not heading in the same direction Be clear on goals.

Identify motivations.
“It seems like we may not be in agreement on the expectations of the job. Would you be willing to talk about what you feel is most important to the job and your performance?”

About This Article

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About the book author:

Christina Tangora Schlachter, PhD, is a Certified Professional Coach. She has created and taught courses on communication skills, crucial conversations for new managers, communication for professionals, and dealing with difficult conversations. She is the coauthor of Leading Business Change For Dummies and is the Chief Leader of She Leads.

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