Sharing the Harvard Business Review tip of the day
Set Up Ground Rules for Your Next Difficult Conversation
Difficult conversations are challenging in part because you don’t know if or when the discussion will go off the rails. To make sure things go smoothly, agree on a code of conduct with your counterpart beforehand. At a minimum, suggest no interrupting, no yelling, and no personal attacks. (Those are basics, yes, but it’s helpful for everyone to be reminded.) Then ask what other rules are important to your counterpart. If you’re concerned your colleague won’t abide by the rules, write them down on a piece of paper or a whiteboard. Then you can gently refer to them if, for example, your counterpart begins to raise his voice: “We said we weren’t going to yell. Can you lower your voice?” Having ground rules in place can give you the help you need to keep the conversation on track.
Adapted from the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict, by Amy Gallo