Keep your Difficult Conversation on track with this Roadmap

If you can get the process part of your conversation right, then you’ll have strategy that will carry you through your conversation and ensure that you reach the outcome that you wanted. Designing the roadmap for your conversation is all about getting the process right. This article shows you how.

Difficult Conversations Roadmap

When you’re clear in your mind about the issue you want to discuss in your difficult conversation it’s so tempting to just go ahead and get on with it, but if you set out on a journey with a destination in mind and no clear route to get there then you’re running a big risk.

Mediation is a very effective way to get two people who don’t see eye-to-eye on an issue to reach a mutually satisfactory outcome, part of the success of mediation is down to its process. Mediation is effectively a process to facilitate a difficult conversation, so here’s your process for your difficult conversation.

Start at the Beginning!

The natural place to start in a difficult conversation is to outline in detail your concerns and how the other person is connected to those concerns, I’m guessing they must be related in some way to the problem or are able to influence the outcome – otherwise why would you involve them in the first place. In mediation this is called the opening statement.

So you might say something like…

“I’d like to talk to you about my concerns relating to 3 specific projects managed by you that have consistently missed the last 3 deadlines. I want to find out what could be causing this and then we take steps to make sure it never happens again. OK to do that right now? “

This is the purpose of your conversation, what follows next is the roadmap…

“The way I thought we could do this would be for me to start by describing in enough detail why I think these 3 projects have missed the deadline and I’d like to hear you view to see whether you see things the same way or different. I’m aware I might not have all the facts so I’m open to hearing your view. ┬áSound ok? “

I then go on to describe the outcome that I’d like to reach and I also throw open the possibility that there may be other factors that are causing delays and so the blame may not rest entirely on the project manager.

“If we agree on the reasons behind the deadlines being breached then I’d like to explore strategies that will ensure that projects under your control are in future submitted on time. If we don’t agree, then I’d like to dig deeper into each project and understand the points of difference, because I’m open to the possibility that there might be other factors outside of your control that are affecting the project deadlines. Does what I’m suggesting make sense?”

“Good, then let’s start.”

Having a framework for your conversation, particularly when it’s a difficult one, helps keep everyone on track in addition to reassuring the person you’re having the conversation with that you’re not intending to hijack the conversation by introducing something that you didn’t agree to.

Transparent and Upfront

By being transparent and upfront, you can turn a difficult conversation into a collaborative one.

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