A few weeks ago, we posted a blog discussing why it’s important to have tough conversations at work. Now, we’re offering up 10 tips for having these conversations in the workplace.
1. Define what success looks like.
It’s easier to measure the effectiveness of your conversations when you have a pre-established set of benchmarks and goals. Consider the impact you want to have, the preparation and participation it’ll require, how you’ll collect feedback, etc.
2. Identify your stakeholders.
It’s crucial to know who your stakeholders are so that you can best tailor the discussions to meet their specific needs.
3. Implement ground rules.
Clearly stating ground rules before the discussion ensures that all guests participate in the conversation with the same baseline of respectful engagement.
4. Use impartial language.
Do not isolate potential guests by using biased or offensive language. Make sure that all wording related to the event – from invitations to questions asked – is unbiased.
5. Begin with relevant icebreakers.
Icebreakers (brief verbal exercises meant to relieve inhibitions or other tensions) set the tone for your guests to be vulnerable and open, ultimately allowing them to get the most out of each conversation.
6. Prioritize personal narratives.
Encourage your guests to speak from experience. This is what separates a debate from an inclusive conversation, as it’s difficult to argue with someone’s personal story.
7. Give everybody equal time to speak.
Guests reach a new level of psychological safety when they know their voices will be heard, and this ultimately leads to a more productive and constructive discussion.
8. Structure your conversation.
Structured conversations – with one main focus, predetermined questions and delegated facilitators – ensure that guests stay on track; thus the group has a better chance at identifying productive outcomes.
9. End with a clear call to action.
End the discussion with a clear call to action that empowers guests to take what they have learned in the conversation and apply it in their workplaces and communities.
10. Follow up with gratitude.
Follow-up can make a big difference in simply acknowledging the bravery that people showed just by showing up. Thank them for having the courage to engage in deep dialogue, and invite them to continue these conversations.
For the full list of tips, along with some other helpful information
to help you lead impactful discussions in your workplace, download our
Beginner’s Guide to Tough Conversations at Work