What to do AFTER a difficult conversation at work

I recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review about team dynamics, and I wanted to share the important points with you.

It’s common to experience difficult conversations at work, whether they are with associates, clients, or your team. They are difficult because of different reasons –such as speaking with a team member about responsibilities not being met – but these conversations almost always include strong emotional reactions from everyone involved.

It’s easy to want to leave difficulties in the past. But, it’s important that you acknowledge that it took place and that there may be work to do after the fact. It is important to work on how to reconnect and repair (if necessary) the relationship after a tough conversation.

But how?

Below are three things that can help you work on a relationship after a challenging conversation, while also ensuring that there is progress on the original issue.

1: Acknowledge that the conversation happened. We often want to pretend that the hard conversation never took place. That’s a mistake, though, because it leaves your team member or associate unsure on how to handle the situation. My advice is to follow up after a “cooling off period” by acknowledging that it was a challenging situation and focusing on the positives that can come from the conversation.

2Find ways to move the conversation forward. Demonstrate that you are invested in finding solutions to the original issue. Send a follow-up email to summarize the conversation and focus on the steps that will lead to a resolution.

3Focus on building the long-term relationship. Consider that if the only interactions you have with your team are difficult conversations, they may start dreading running into you. Instead, pay attention to building the relationship outside of the challenging conversation. This balances both the outcome you desire on the issue and the working relationship you want for the long-term.

Confrontation with staff is never easy, but with special care after the fact, you can be seen as a problem solver and collaborator – good traits in any leader.

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