Management Tip of the Day: Survive those tough conversations

Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:11am EDT
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BOSTON (Reuters Life!) - Conversations at work can be riddled with pitfalls, but there are at least a few ways to turn things around, says Harvard Business Review.

The Management Tip of the Day offers quick, practical management tips and ideas from Harvard Business Review and ( Any opinions expressed are not endorsed by Reuters.

"No one is immune to workplace tensions: It is inevitable that you will have some trying conversations with colleagues or clients.

Here are three ways to reach a productive outcome, no matter how tough things get:

1. Keep it civil. Don't turn the conversation into a combat with a winner and a loser. Everyone looks bad when the discussion turns toxic.

2. Don't rehearse. When you know things are going to be tough, it's tempting to practice what you're going to say ahead of time. But this is a conversation -- not a performance. Instead, know where you stand but be open enough to listen and react.

3. Resist making assumptions. You don't have access to anyone's intentions but your own. Don't assume that you know where your counterpart is coming from or how she views the problem. Instead, ask for her perspective."

-Today's management tip was adapted from "Difficult Conversations: Nine Common Mistakes" by Holly Weeks.

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<p>A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, October 14, 2009. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>