Helping You Approach Your Next Crucial Conversation

Whether you’re a business owner, a manager, or a co-worker, you’ve most likely felt the stress and anxiety that come from facing the need to initiate a crucial (and possibly uncomfortable) conversation. A crucial conversation is any conversation where the stakes are high, emotions run strong and opinions vary.

These conversations can make a lasting impact on those involved. Those who approach the conversation in a calm and prepared manner will have the most successful outcome. Try these five steps to conduct a healthy crucial conversation.

Define the Objective

  • Determine what you want out of the exchange and the best possible outcome
  • Visualize the conversation and anticipate possible responses that could take the conversation off-track
  • Set-up an appointment and clarify what will be discussed


Stick to the Facts

  • Provide concrete observations and examples
  • Don’t let the conversation get derailed by emotion or personal agendas
  • Create an atmosphere of mutual respect
  • Listen to the other person’s point of view


Effectively Communicate

  • Paraphrase what the other person said to ensure you both have the same understanding of the conversation
  • Handle the conversations in person not over text, email or voicemail
  • Be a good listener
  • Project open body language
  • Be persuasive not abrasive


Help Remove Obstacles

  • Don’t avoid the conversation
  • Help the person look at their behavior objectively
  • Acknowledge up front that the conversation may be difficult
  • Establish an atmosphere of mutual respect
  • Watch for signs the conversation is going in the wrong direction and take corrective action


Plan of Action

  • Identify the action that needs to take place
  • Collaborate and come to mutual-agreement on the plan
  • Develop specific and measurable actions, clearly defined responsibilities and the timeline for accomplishment
  • Schedule a follow-up conversation to ensure accountability

Engaging in a crucial conversation takes honesty, courage and preparation. It is an important skill for everyone to learn to use in their business and personal relationships. Following these steps will help you approach your next crucial conversation with strength and confidence.


Contributed by: Amy Noel