The More Difficult the Conversation, the Greater Use of Your Gifts

Lately I have been talking with law firm managing partners, business developers, recruiters/career coaches and others in professional service industries – all around the common denominator of handling/not handling difficult conversations.

These conversations include but are not limited to

  • interviewing/firing
  • sales/purchasing
  • conflict resolution
  • negotiation/argument strategy
  • admitting error/holding others to account

It seems the tougher the conversation, the more practiced we must be in using our gifts.


What leads us to use our gifts effectively in each of these cases? Knowing what we want and/or knowing how to ask for what we want is the starting point. With this knowledge, we set the tone while sharing our expectations and intention.

In a conflict resolution scenario we can lay out the circumstances with ease by focusing on the facts that support our ability to help someone save face.

“John, I have observed you handling the phone so effectively for us. Your talents in putting people at ease are admirable.

So when I saw you lose your temper earlier, I was taken by surprise. I wonder what happened to put you in that condition and also want to help you get back to doing your work so effectively.

What do I need to know?”

Although emotion entered the picture – concern for the phone handler – it didn’t dominate and keep the  observer from having the conversation or ruining it. Obviously, listening, gathering information and moving forward require focus on the facts.

Also required is knowing when to speak and when to stop speaking.

In sales, saying too much keeps us from motivating the candidate to buy. Identifying a need, providing a solution and letting the potential buyer be the next to speak is key. Saying too much gets them off the hook.

Similarly, saying too much when managing, hiring and seeking resolution prohibits others from involvement. It even lulls a jury into sleep.

To sum up, my father used to say, we know the ability of leaders when they handle a problem. Likewise, we know our own abilities when we handle difficult conversations. They exemplify our practiced use of our gifts.

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On May 30th, 2012, posted in: difficult conversations, practice, talents/gifts by
One Response to The More Difficult the Conversation, the Greater Use of Your Gifts
  1. Fiinndg this post. It’s just a big piece of luck for me.

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