Playback Access: Preparing for the Hardest Conversations - a Panel Discussion
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The realities of difficult conversations at work
Hard conversations are an inevitable part of work. Whether it's addressing performance, asking for or giving critical feedback, or discussing sensitive topics, learning how to have difficult conversations is essential for personal and professional growth. In this discussion, we're talking about how to prepare for these conversations - because if we don't set ourselves up well to go into it, we're practicing live when the stakes are highest.
Lack of preparation can be the catalyst for hard conversations going awry. When we enter difficult discussions without adequate groundwork, emotions and stress can quickly escalate, derailing productive communication. Without a clear understanding of our own thoughts and feelings, we may struggle to articulate our perspectives effectively, leading to misunderstandings and misinterpretations.
Preparation is crucial in fostering empathy and active listening. Absence of readiness can result in reactive rather than thoughtful responses, further exacerbating tensions and deepening divides. Conversations may become unstructured, meandering, or volatile, with participants becoming defensive or shutting down.
In contrast, when we invest time in preparing for difficult conversations, we can establish a calmer and more respectful atmosphere, build mutual understanding, and pave the way for meaningful resolutions. Ultimately, preparation sets the foundation for successful, constructive dialogues even in the most challenging circumstances.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada has identified 13 factors of Psychologically Safe & Healthy Workplaces. Organizations who put them into effect can empower their workers to develop true work-life balance - leading to increased productivity, motivation, and engagement at work.
What We Talked About
The most common ways that hard conversations go sideways, or that lead to one or more party to get defensive or shut down
The importance of self-regulation in helping us feel prepared to enter into, and to effectively conduct, hard conversations
Co-regulation - what it is and how it's one of the most effective strategies to keep all parties on track and productive
How much preparation should be happening leading into a hard conversation - from room setup & location, to scripting, to checking in before the dialogue even starts
Getting into the right mindset for the conversation - why knowing exactly what we're bringing into the meeting is an essential piece that'll affect the outcome from the start
The importance of recognizing and understanding the role power dynamics play in each interaction - and tips & strategies to neutralize some of their biggest effects
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