All posts by Todd King

Trainer QA

How do you handle a crucial conversation with a really difficult person?

Todd King

Todd King is a Master Trainer and Senior Consultant at VitalSmarts.


Q How do you handle a crucial conversation/crucial confrontation with somebody who is a really difficult, or even malicious, person?

A Great question! We should first define “difficult” and “malicious.” Likely we are talking about some form of silence or violence in either case. Remember that any time you see silence or violence, it indicates a lack of safety.

The fix here is to use a safety tool. If you think the “maliciousness” is due to the other person feeling disrespected, apologize to restore the respect. If you think it stems from the other person believing that you don’t care about him or her, create mutual purpose. If perhaps the other person has misunderstood you, use a contrasting statement.

Perhaps most important is to remember that tough issues don’t necessarily get resolved in one conversation. It may take several interactions to build, or rebuild, trust with the other person.