Lean in to difficult conversations

Two men leaning in and engaging in a conversation

Difficult conversations are…

Well, difficult.

But dancing around the elephant in the room doesn’t make it go away.

Yesterday, I was approached by a client with a humdinger of a challenge. They’d been working on a site with another vendor for a year. A deadline was looming and there were still a LOT of problems to overcome before the site could launch.

My instinct was to soft-pedal the answer because I knew my solution—or, rather, the investment they would need to make—was not going to be, shall we say, “happy-making.”

Instead, I took a breath and said, “You probably aren’t going to like what I am about to say.” And I laid it out for her.

Within an hour she called me back and to tell me we were a go.

Leading with honesty about the situation, and following with empathy toward the other person feels, can really reframe a conversation.

By being direct with my client, and expressing my understanding of how painful the problem and its solution were going to be, I believe I helped change what could have been the outcome.

How can you approach challenging conversations differently to be more effective?