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How to Handle a Difficult Conversation at Work

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How to Handle a Difficult Conversation at Work

Difficult conversations are just that: difficult. With friends, with family, and especially with coworkers. Maybe you’re having a hard time communicating clearly with the other RDHs in the office, or maybe you need to give some difficult feedback or make suggestions to your boss.

How can you make those conversations run as smoothly as possible?

Check out our tips on how to handle those tricky talks at work.

Take a minute; change your mindset

When we’re upset, or just plain frustrated, we have a tendency to slip into a confrontational attitude – but that’s not going to make things any easier for anyone.

Take a minute. Go on a walk. Breathe. Remember that this is a conversation, not a lecture. 

In fact, don’t think of it as a “difficult conversation” at all. Try to reframe how you think about this discussion – you’re trying to figure out a solution to a problem. And really, that’s a positive thing!

Prepare some talking points

Don’t go into a conversation empty-handed. Make sure you know what you want to say, and how you want to say it. You’ll be more prepared for questions that might come your way, and being clear on your thoughts will keep emotions from running too high – which could only escalate the situation.

And nobody wants that.

Be calm, clear, & confident

Keep those feelings under control. We get it, that’s not always the easiest thing to do. But when you stay calm, you’ll speak more clearly, more directly. And you’ll be more confident in what you say.

One of the most crucial things about having these conversations is making sure there is no miscommunication – that the other person understands what you mean.
And you have to understand them clearly, too.


Have you ever heard (or said) something along the lines of, “you’re hearing me, but you’re not listening?” 

It’s a valid point.

Sometimes we hear the words people are saying, but we’re not listening. We’re not understanding. And that’s the most important thing we can do when conversations get complicated.

So say what you need to say, but give the other person space to say what they need to say, to ask questions. Try to understand their perspective.

You don’t even necessarily have to agree, but you should be able to perceive their point of view – so that you can move forward in a more positive way!

Find a solution

The whole point of having these conversations is to find a solution – that should be your primary goal. And try to offer different ones, so that you can figure out the best path forward for you both.

No one has to be right or wrong, but make sure you make positive suggestions and put a plan in place – so that the next time something tricky pops up, you’ll be prepared to handle any sensitive situation.

Even in the most chill of workplaces, there is bound to be conflict at some point. And there will have to be a constructive conversation – whether those conflicts are personal or professional.

Remember to be confident in your perspective, but remain willing to understand.

Breathe. Prepare. Listen. Resolve.

And smile!

Read more fun facts, expert advice, and dental industry news on the 
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