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7 Vital Tactics for Managers to Have Constructive Difficult Discussions

As a manager or a CEO, it is only normal to have that occasional conversation that seems to linger in your mind for days or even weeks. Difficult conversations are hardly soothing, but they can be remarkably productive if handled correctly.

Crucial conversations are inevitable in every organizational structure, but with proper preparation, the outcome can be both helpful and meaningful. In this article, we examine seven practical tactics that will help managers have difficult discussions and turn them into a positive experience for all parties involved.

Active Listening

Active listening is a critical tactic that any manager should adopt during difficult conversations. When having discussions, it’s essential to practice active listening by paying close attention to what the other person is saying.

Avoid assuming you already understand what they’re about to say or interrupting them; instead, listen patiently to their point of view. Try to be empathetic and understand their side of the story, which is incredibly critical to gaining perspective.

Listening to their perspective will enable you to build trust with them, as you are now seen as a caring and considerate person.

Stay Calm

Difficult conversations can cause an adrenaline rush, and it’s all too easy to lose your cool in moments like these. Stay calm and collected during these conversations, and try to keep emotions in check.

When you keep your emotions under control, you will be able to articulate your thoughts more effectively and listen actively. In addition, staying calm can help you navigate any resistance you might encounter.

Have a Game Plan

One of the most practical tactics for having a difficult discussion is to go into it with a plan. Having a game plan helps you remain on the right track and stay focused.

Start by defining your objectives and decide what points you would like to communicate during the conversation. Having a clear understanding of what you want to achieve will help you stay on course and maintain your focus throughout the conversation.

Be Clear and Concise

During difficult conversations, it’s vital to keep your message simple and clear, with no ambiguities. Be prepared to be direct, concise, and honest.

Avoid softening the conversation with unnecessary apologies or repeatedly saying “it’s not easy for me to tell you this.” This will only make the other party defensive and will not address the issue adequately.

Be clear and concise with your message so that the other party understands the gravity of the situation.

Share Solutions

Having a difficult conversation doesn’t have to be a one-way conversation. Encourage the other party to share their solutions to the challenge at hand.

They might have insights that you haven’t considered, which could be useful and resolve the problem. Collaboration can make it possible to find a workable solution to whatever challenge you are trying to address.

Use Positive Language

The language you use during difficult conversations can trigger a positive or a negative emotion in the other party. To maintain a constructive conversation, use positive language throughout.

Avoid using words that can be interpreted as confrontational or intimidating. Instead, opt for words that encourage solutions and commitment to actions.


To ensure that the conversation was productive, follow up after the meeting to ensure that the other party understands your position and what is expected of them.

Additionally, check-in periodically to ensure that the previous resolution reached still works and attempt to make modifications if necessary.


Difficult conversations are not pleasant, but they are essential. As a manager, you must know how to have difficult conversations effectively to avoid unproductive confrontations that affect productivity. Adopt the above tactics to have productive, constructive discussions that can help your team grow and achieve more. With these seven practical tactics for navigating tough conversations, you will undoubtedly come out of the conversation with a clearer understanding of the problem and a resolution that benefits both parties. Harness the power of these strategies to revolutionize challenging conversations!

If you need help becoming a better leader, providing the right kind of effective feedback, let’s talk.

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