3 ways to avoid the negative conversation

Posted on Thursday.7.30.2009



Everyone has them, but nobody wants to have them. Difficult conversations are probably one of the most draining things that a person has to deal with. Whether you’re on the receiving end of negative talk (aka constructive criticism) or dishing it out, it’s hardly ever a pleasant experience.

The past few months, I’ve had to have so many of these conversations with people around me and actually have a couple more still in the queue. I still hate having these conversations even if it’s out of my genuine care for people. I’m realizing more and more though that as you seek to have more influence, the more these conversations need to take place.

Here are three ways to “avoid” having these conversations. It’s not what you think.

  1. Have intuition: if you spend more time around the people you’re serving, you’ll have a greater understanding of where that person is at and have a better gauge of their ideas, thoughts and complaints. Intuition is fueled by knowledge of the intricacies and processes of a person, it’s not a magical skill. Some people are better at it than others, but just like anything else, I think you can hone it and craft it. Seek to understand and there will be less surprise conversations to be had.
  2. Always seek the truth: if you seek truth in every conversation you have with the people in your care, it sets up an environment where your people feel safe to bring up any issue that may be in the ball park. Instead of being bombarded by an arsenal of issues during a 4-hour conversation, maybe it’ll be dealt with during a casual pass-by conversation.
  3. Choose self-denial: if you choose the growth of the person over your own personal satisfaction or comfort, it helps release your natural tendency to self-loathe or worse, shift blame to everything else BUT yourself. The negative conversation is a lot easier if you’re not thinking only about you.

So it’s not really avoiding these conversations that’s the goal, but rather setting up an environment for growth-driven conversations and relational depth. If we achieve that, the conversations become different.

Posted in: leadership