How to Have Difficult Conversations

In this course, you will learn how to improve communication and leadership skills by having successful difficult conversations. You should take this course if you want to improve personal or professional relationships and advance in your career.
Course info
Level
Beginner
Updated
Dec 5, 2018
Duration
1h 36m
Table of contents
Description
Course info
Level
Beginner
Updated
Dec 5, 2018
Duration
1h 36m
Description

In your personal and professional relationships you have many opportunities to have critical conversations. It may feel uncomfortable bringing up sensitive topics and bringing attention to things that need to change because you may be worried about hurting feelings or overstepping boundaries. In this course, How to Have Difficult Conversations, you will learn to master the art of planning for and participating in conversations that are hard and uncomfortable, whether you are the initiator of the conversation or the subject of the meeting. First, you will see how to prepare for the difficult conversation, from purposefully planning for the meeting in the right environment to being prepared and practiced with specific language to achieve your objectives. Next, you will discover ideas and tactics for how to present the problem and keep the conversation focused, responding to emotions appropriately and keep your own emotions in check. Finally, you will explore what to do after you are done with the difficult conversation, including the critical follow-up, and how to act towards and around the people involved in the critical conversation. When you are finished with this course, you will have the skills and knowledge of leadership and communication needed to have successful difficult conversations.

About the author
About the author

Jason Alba is founder of JibberJobber.com, an online relationship manager for professionals to manage their career and job search. Jason is the author of I’m on LinkedIn – Now What??? and coauthor of I’m on Facebook – Now What??? and specializes in helping professionals with career management, network, and personal branding.

More from the author
More courses by Jason Alba
Section Introduction Transcripts
Section Introduction Transcripts

Course Overview
Hi everyone. My name is Jason Alba. Welcome to my course, How to Have Difficult Conversations. I am CEO and founder of JibberJobber, which is a CRM for job seekers. Early in my career I was a web developer, and eventually I started managing dev teams. In this course we're going to talk about an important soft skill, which is how to have difficult conversations. I was recently in a meeting with a CEO who said that every time someone chooses to have a difficult conversation, and does it well, there are benefits, whether relationships improve, issues get cleared up, or the work environment becomes much better. Having those difficult conversations, which we sometimes might just want to avoid, is necessary for progress. Some of the major topics that we'll cover include how to prepare for difficult conversations, what to do during and after the difficult conversation, and what to do if you're caught off-guard and unprepared for a difficult conversation. By the end of this course you should feel confident, maybe even excited, that you can have a difficult conversation the right way, that you can make sure the conversation is handled well, and really see the benefits of choosing to do this hard thing. From here you should feel comfortable diving into improving other aspects of communication and relationships with courses on how to become a better listener, management, and leadership. I hope you'll join me on this journey to learn how to communicate better in hard situations with the How to Have Difficult Conversations course at Pluralsight.

Having the Difficult Conversation
In the last module we talked about everything you could do as you prepared for a difficult conversation. In this module we focus on the actual conversation. I want to introduce you to two fictional characters that we'll use for demonstrations during the rest of this course. First, meet Dave, a developer who's quality of work has decreased over the last few months. Next, meet Dorothy, Dave's boss. In this fictitious scenario, Dorothy has emailed Dave to meet with her and another manager on Friday to talk about a noticeable decrease in Dave's work performance. Dorothy has had time to thoroughly prepare for this meeting. Dave is preparing as much as he could, but he isn't quite sure what all of Dorothy's concerns are. In this module we'll talk about things you should consider during the difficult conversation. Specifically, we'll talk about The physical environment, we'll talk about inviting another person, and what their role is, we'll talk about body language, how to start the meeting, managing distractions, emotional considerations, blame and objections, and saying what needs to be said. Let's get started.

Following up after the Difficult Conversation
Congratulations. You've had your difficult conversation. I hope it went well. If you went through the preparation we talked about, it probably went much better than if you hadn't prepared. In this module we'll talk about things that you should do after the conversation. Up to this point, you may have noticed some recurring themes in this course. One is treating the other person as a human, what some leaders call "leading with your heart. " The other is respecting the other person, no matter what their role is, or how new or seasoned they are. Having successful difficult conversations has a lot to do with how you respect the other person. The fact that you have mustered up the courage to have the conversation is a sign that you respect them. Speaking of success, remember that we are out for a win-win experience. This is not about you winning and them feeling horrible, rather about you helping meet the objectives while they have a successful experience. Maybe they'll go through some growth, maybe they'll have to do hard things, but hopefully the entire experience, from the difficult conversation through their resolution of the issues, will help them become a better person and perhaps have more success in their role. Let's jump in.

Having a Difficult Conversation You Aren’t Prepared For
In the last three modules we have talked about what to do when you need to have a difficult conversation with someone. We talked about how to prepare for it, what to do during the conversation, and what to do after the conversation. In life, we don't always get the luxury of so much planning and forethought. In this module I want to talk to you about how to have a difficult conversation when you don't have time to prepare, whether you're the one initiating the difficult conversation or the one who has a difficult conversation sprung on you. Let's continue to use Dorothy to illustrate certain points of having a productive and successful outcome. In this example it is Dorothy's boss, Ann, who needs to have a difficult conversation with Dorothy. The problem is that even though the company has a fairly liberal policy on vacation and workplace flexibility, some members of the executive team haven't seen Dorothy for what seems like weeks, and no one is sure what she's working on. Ann invites Dorothy to a meeting with just a day's notice, and Dorothy accepts. Let's learn from Dorothy and Ann's discussion, so we can be better prepared for a difficult conversation when we haven't had enough time to prepare. In this module we'll talk about what you can do to still have a productive and successful outcome to a difficult conversation, even when you don't feel as prepared as you would like to be. Let's get started.