“We Need to Talk”: How to Have Delicate Job Conversations

“We Need to Talk”: How to Have Delicate Job Conversations
Conversations should not be held between doors and doors, but rather in a protected space.
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Having difficult conversations is part of our lives and is also part of the workplace. This involves bad news in some form, such as a termination meeting, excessive absenteeism and overtime, or criticism of work performance. Professional topics can also become emotional, says Susan Müller, psychosocial consultant at Mavie Work, a Viennese provider of workplace health promotion. “Ultimately it’s a question of the right preparation. And the rule is: practice makes perfect. The more often you face challenging conversations in everyday life, the easier they become.” She has the following tips:

Clarity about the motive: What do I want to achieve with the conversation?

Correct posture: Attitude transfers. Since pressure only creates counter-pressure, you should always remain polite.

Good space: Have difficult conversations calmly and not in a hurry.

Communicate appreciatively: First-person messages such as “I perceive…”, “I wish…” are constructive; accusations should be avoided, as should “unprofessional, wrong, always…”. The motto is exchange instead of accusation.

Stay with yourself: A conversation is not a tennis match – not every statement needs to be commented on. You should allow breaks. If you breathe consciously and deeply, you will stay calm.

Be curious and open: Listening, asking questions and repeating what has been said shows that you want to understand the other person. In order for the exchange to remain constructive, it must also be possible to interrupt conversations.

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