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At some point in your career you will have to initiate a difficult conversation. You may be a senior developer who has to address issues in the code with another developer or you may be in a lead or management position and have to address an issue between employees. Whatever the situation that prompts the conversation it’s not one that you look forward to having. These conversations are ones that must take place, though you don’t want to deal with it and wish it would just go away.
While there are some people who enjoy conflict (looking at you Enneagram Type 8’s), the majority of us try to avoid it as much as possible. The more pragmatic know that it is necessary even if they don’t enjoy it. It seems easier to just avoid the conversation than deal with the emotional fallout and uncomfortable discussion around it. Unfortunately, avoiding difficult conversations means that nothing changes and can lead to resentment causing even more conflict that leads to a more difficult conversation than would have happened had the initial issue was been addressed.
It can be hard to grasp that conflict in and of itself is not a bad thing. Having difficult conversations and disagreements is an essential part of working on a team. It’s how we get from the Storming to the Norming phase in team formation. These uncomfortable, difficult conversation actually create an environment where employees and coworkers feel safe bringing up issues and talking about problems.
It’s never easy when you have to initiate these difficult conversations. The biggest takeaway here is to plan the conversation before it happens. Doing so will help to ease the anxiety of having the conversation and keep you focused on the facts of the situation. Remember the ultimate goal is to find a workable solution to the issue that everyone is willing to work toward. When you do inevitably have a difficult conversation at work use the information here to help guide you toward a resolution that everyone involved supports. It will not always work out the way that you want, but you will be more likely to get to your ultimate goal by following these tips.