July 13

Difficult Conversations

Whether as leaders, teammates, clients, or friends, no one (except a mas- ochist) enjoys difficult conversations. Yet they are inevitable any time we are doing difficult, complex work in a community of others. There will be differences of opinion and perspective that are necessary to sharpen and refine ideas. There will be personalities that grate against one another and cause friction.

Here’s the good news: friction is what creates progress. Without it, we have nothing to push off against. If handled well, difficult conversa- tions leave us in a better place than before. We reach an understanding. We clear the air. We are free to collaborate without the residue of sus- picion and mistrust. Douglas Stone wrote, “Difficult conversations are almost never about getting the facts right. They are about conflicting per- ceptions, interpretations, and values.”

It’s often the case that neither party wants to be the first one to engage in a conversation that might become difficult. You should be that person. Clear the air, remove the dissonance, and build trust.

Have the difficult conversation.


is there a difficult conversation that you’ve been avoiding because you simply dread the idea of having it? Make a plan for having that conversation.

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