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Inviting Difficult Conversation

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Karen Woodard-ChavezKaren Woodard-Chavez

Let's start with a moment of truth. When someone says to you, "We need to talk," what is your first response? Is it, "Absolutely, what would you like to discuss," or is it more of, "Uh-oh, what did I do wrong?" with a sinking feeling of dread? Similarly, what is your feeling when you are the person who is saying, "we need to talk?"

If you're one who's inclined to avoid difficult conversations rather than invite them, I urge you to think about the trade-off. You are trading short term comfort for long term dysfunction. Instead, I encourage you to be brave enough to start a conversation that matters. If you do not, you will constantly repeat what you do not repair.

As managers and leaders, it is important that we become comfortable with and good at inviting difficult conversation with our co-workers, residents, members or guests. The obvious benefits to doing so include getting accurate information, building more functional relationships, working through issues more proficiently and creating authentic connection by building trust. This article will provide a framework as well as verbiage for you to invite and effectively deal with difficult conversations.

A tool that I utilize with clients who want to improve their ability to invite difficult conversation is called The Moment of Truth Survey. I have them complete it, email it to me prior to doing training with them and then tabulate the results. The survey is very simple and looks like this:

Please answer the following questions on a scale of 1 - 5 with 1 being lowest and 5 being highest. If you answer with less than a 5, please explain why:

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