Take the Stress Out of Stressful Conversations

Stressful conversations in the workplace are so loaded with anger, confusion, fear, and embarrassment that most people avoid or mishandle them. But dodging conflicts, appeasing difficult people, and ignoring antagonisms is costly for you and your company.

To master the emotional maelstrom of stressful conversations, approach them with honest, direct language; calm behavior, and nonthreatening phrasing. For instance, suppose you have to tell an employee that his cruel humor alienates coworkers. Honor him by acknowledging your part in the problem. Say: "I share responsibility, because I've been reluctant to speak openly with you about this." You'll help him hear your difficult message, without provoking him.

Today's Management Tip of the Day was adapted from the HBR article, "Taking the Stress Out of Stressful Conversations," by Holly Weeks.

By washingtonpost.com Editors  |  August 14, 2008; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  Management Tip of the Day
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