As a leader or manager, have you ever found yourself in a situation where you knew you had to have a difficult conversation with someone at work, but you were dreading it to the point you’d rather not do it?
Or have you ever felt like you don’t have the knowledge or the practical tools to handle difficult situations at work in the best way?
If you can relate to this, you’re not the only one who’s ever experienced this – many people would rather avoid difficult conversations! The truth is that this attitude never leads to positive results – quite the opposite, in fact!
When we avoid what we perceive as difficult conversations at work, we run into problems down the line, such as staff retention or well-being being affected, a disconnect within the organisation, damage to the bottom line, and a lack of communication between colleagues.
Having difficult conversations at work is a necessity. But without the right tools and training, difficult conversations continue to remain just that… Difficult!
But not anymore.
In this blog post, I’m going to share information about how to find the right training so you and your team can have better conversations, increase overall staff morale, performance, and profits, lower absences, and add a whole bunch of benefits to your team and the wider organisation.
Ultimately, hiring a professional difficult communication trainer will enable you to create an open and honest culture within the business, where everyone feels respected and heard. That’s what we all want, right?
Identify your communication training needs
The first step to finding the right type of difficult conversation training is to identify your needs. Where exactly is the problem? What are you struggling with?
Here are some examples to get you thinking and pinpoint the exact issue. Are you experiencing any difficulties with:
- Performance management conversations.
- Disconnected teams or people/departments working in silos and not communicating with each other.
- Disenfranchised or underperforming teams.
- Fractured internal relationships.
- Concern over tricky external dynamics (such as with clients, volunteers, stakeholders, etc.)
- Individual inappropriate behaviours.
Why is it important to identify what your training needs are first?
Because each of these issues requires a slightly different approach. For example, if an individual at work is behaving inappropriately, their manager must initiate that difficult conversation with them to address the problem. This is where you’d be looking for leadership and communication training or specifically for ‘difficult conversation’ training.
On the other hand, if the issue you’re currently facing in your organisation has to do with a disconnect or conflict within teams, then you might need some specialist training in conflict resolution, or someone who would specifically help with this (more on that later!)
So let’s explore the different types of training available in more detail.
The types of difficult conversations training
When it comes to leadership and communication skills training, you can come across different types. Here are some examples I’m going to share some more information about:
- Specific difficult conversation training.
- Communication skills training.
- Conflict management training.
- Emotional intelligence training.
Specific difficult conversation training
When managers invest in leading powerfully and with impact, integrity, and humanity, you end up with a working environment that promotes honesty, accountability, and a truly equal voice.
Difficult conversations become an opportunity for ‘high challenge’ and ‘high support’, which only increases your productivity, well-being, and bottom line.
Similarly, when employees and team members learn how to tackle challenging situations or navigate conflict in a way that’s productive and in alignment with their values and communication style, they start to bring more ideas to the table without apology.
It’s about learning how to be proactive in contributing to your organisational culture in a way that’s supportive of all viewpoints, irrespective of where they work in the company.
This is the type of training I deliver, and you can find more information about the workshops and coaching I offer to managers and teams here.
Communication skills training
This type of training is all about learning how to communicate effectively.
We all know how breakdowns in communication or simple misunderstandings can create tension and disruption at work. This is why investing in developing efficient and appropriate communication skills is key, especially if you’re a manager or leader of people.
A huge part of communicating isn’t just what we say or how we say it, but also our ability to actively listen and ask questions effectively, openly, and without judgement.
Communication skills training focuses on understanding, adapting, and improving someone’s communication style to get the most out of their everyday conversations with their colleagues and teams.
Conflict management training
Another type of training you might benefit from is Conflict Management. As it says on the tin, this is about learning techniques and strategies for handling and resolving conflict at work.
As different types of conflict can arise in the workplace, the first step is to understand how they vary in nature and therefore how they can be approached in the best possible way.
For example, are you having a disagreement with a team member over a task they didn’t complete or didn’t execute to the expected standards? Do you have people in your team who struggle to work together because their personal styles clash? Or is this about tension between departments because of conflicting interests or objectives?
Different types of conflicts will require different techniques. So it’s important to learn effective strategies that apply to specific types of situations, including the most serious ones (such as misconduct, discrimination, harassment, etc.), and also learn how to prevent conflict in the future wherever possible.
Emotional intelligence training
Another important type of training you could invest in is Emotional Intelligence Training. This is about learning techniques to better manage behaviours and build and maintain better interpersonal relationships.
As managers or leaders, you need to be effective communicators but also hone your emotional awareness, self-management, and social skills in order to navigate professional relationships appropriately and efficiently. Generally speaking, when emotional intelligence is combined with technical competence, individuals and teams in an organisation tend to perform better and more consistently.
In-person training vs communication course
While choosing the type of training you need is the first step, another key factor to consider is the way the information is delivered. The main options available are in-person and online training (for example, through self-paced courses with unlimited access).
Your choice of training delivery method may largely depend on time and budget. For example, a course can work out a lot cheaper for your company and allow more flexibility in terms of when people complete it.
However, in-person training has the advantage of providing real-time feedback and tips on how you and other attendees from your organisation can improve. And that can be invaluable in building your confidence and also bringing teams together discussing examples that are relevant to your day-to-day work. This is impossible to do with an online course where everyone follows the training material individually and without specific support from the trainer.
Also, there is something to be said about taking the time out of your daily tasks and committing to a dedicated time to learn specific, practical skills that you can take back and apply to the workplace.
Learning how to communicate better, manage conflict, and handle difficult conversations in the right way isn’t an overnight job or a quick fix. Fostering a culture of better communication takes time, dedication, and in-depth training.
This is exactly why I choose to work with my clients closely and over a period of time – so they can experience long-lasting results. The last thing you want is to sit through hours of course material, take some notes, and go back to your job the next day with no idea how to apply what you learnt. For more information on how I work, head over to this page.
Finding an expert leadership communication trainer
Once you’ve decided on the type of difficult conversation training you want to have and start evaluating and comparing options, you may also need to consider the following:
- Qualification and experience of the instructor. For example, you can find more information about my background here. It’s not just about degrees and qualifications. You also want to make sure the provider you choose has experience working with your type of organisation and that they can provide more in-depth information about the way they work and get results.
- Reviews and recommendations. These are important because they tell you that the provider you’re thinking of hiring has helped others just like you achieve results. You can find some of my testimonials and client stories here.
- Is the training bespoke? Be mindful of generic courses that aren’t targeted to your specific industry, business model, etc. Before you book anything, make sure the training you choose caters to your requirements. For example, every business I’ve ever worked with had different needs. That’s why I tailor each training to what your company wants to work on – my service is fully bespoke.
- Do you need group workshops or one-to-one coaching? There’s no right or wrong here – again, it’s about your specific needs and requirements as an organisation. However, make sure you’ve thought about this in advance and worked out what format you’d prefer. Some providers may deliver one type of training and not the other, so check what they do before buying. For example, I offer both workshops and coaching.
Are you looking for difficult conversation training for the leaders in your organisation?
With the right training and development opportunities, handling uncomfortable situations at work (including disagreement, conflict, etc.) can be a lot easier and provide your company with huge benefits in all areas – from performance to profit.
If you or your organisation would like any training on handling difficult conversations or get some help to improve communication overall, check out my services or drop me a line, and let’s chat some more.