Whether you’re telling a client the project is delayed, asking for a pay rise or dealing with a challenging colleague, handling difficult conversations at work is an inevitable part of any job.
As part of a programme of events designed to support recent graduates, Grace Louisy (BA International Relations with Year Abroad, 2016) and Theo Rutherford (BEng Computer Systems Engineering, 2010) shared their advice for managing "elephant in the office" conversations.
Grace, Head of Operations at Headbox, shared her personal experience of having a challenging conversation with her manager and how she approached it. She says: 'I reminded myself that it is a conversation, not a confrontation. I made sure I was well prepared and carefully formulated what I wanted to say. I had clear and factual examples before the conversation.
'I think it's important to always have empathy with the person who you are speaking to. I approached it with kindness and gave them the benefit of the doubt. It was a turning point and our relationship improved afterwards.'
Theo, Engineering Manager at Gen™, explained that early in his career he didn't always feel that he handled difficult conversations well and has since learned a lot.
He says: 'It's important to be clear, confident and authentic with what your expectations are for the conversation. Also, you should not have difficult conversations in person while angry, nor send an email while angry. It's best to write the email, sleep on it and review it the next day.
'If you are in a more junior role, don't feel that you have to accept the situation as it is. Work out what you want, come prepared and have that conversation.'