Difficult Conversations

Conversations become difficult when emotions become a factor. Owning a business involves relationships concerning that interest, and, on all fronts, emotion often is a factor in conversations. Because these emotional conversations are difficult, they are often postponed or avoided altogether. Generally, this is the basis for much of the misunderstanding and acrimony that often characterize human relationships. This is the common reason business owners fail to realize full value from their business interests.

The enemy of meaningful communication in a conversation are assumptions. It is extremely misleading to make an obtuse reference to a so-called understood point, and thereafter assume that the matter is settled. When communication is documented, these assumptions can be recognized and corrected. Serious meetings between business owners require minutes, which are reviewed, and then adopted as correct. To accomplish meaningful, effective owner agreement, serious meetings are required.

Conversations are important because the communication in a face-to-face meeting is more than just the words spoken. In fact, meaningful communication often helps a relationship, even if the nature of the words used is acrimonious. Many a relationship has been saved by the willingness of the parties to continue conversations, and many relationships ended when one party cut-off conversations with the other party.

Business conversations are no different. If the parties do not have conversations, the relationship is seriously damaged or non-existent. Acrimonious conversations are better than none at all. In a business relationship where continuing conversation is essential, the cutting-off of conversations is a very serious act.

Given the need to have business conversations, and because these conversations are often difficult, there needs to be a process to get past the acrimony – be it potential or existing. Perhaps the best concept to keep in mind is the fallibility of spoken words. We often say what we do not mean. We often speak without considering the position of others. We often do not listen before speaking. To immediately react to inflammatory spoken words is to let emotion control and to make the conversation that much more difficult.

The pressure release for the important, difficult conversation is that upon hearing the acrimony wait for the documentation review before making additional comments. Taking time allows us to look past words to motives and consider what may have been the reasonable intent behind a seemingly unreasonable comment. Call this patience or call it humility – both commendable traits – the process of reviewing comments and trying to understand will avoid a cut-off of conversations.