Preparing for difficult remote conversations

It’s highly likely that as a manager of a virtual team you’ll have to deal with some form of conflict or difficult conversation

A difficult conversation could take the form of a team dispute, productivity problems or something of a more sensitive nature.

Having to have difficult conversations are challenging when you are in the same room as the person you’re speaking to, but in a remote working environment they can get even more challenging. But even though no one enjoys having them the best way to manage the situation as best you can is to prepare your approach.

Face to face vs remote conversations

Your approach may be slightly different when tackling a virtual conversation over a face to face one. You won’t have the benefit of the visual cues as you would in person. You will also need to work harder at communicating effectively and clearly so that you avoid making the situation worse.

One thing you should not do is avoid having the conversation altogether.

It may seem easier to put off discussing a tricky issue when you’re not in the same room as the person. But that doesn’t solve the problem and ultimately delays it and may make the situation worse in the long run.

So take the virtual bull by the horns and make sure that you are equipped with some skills to give you the best outcome possible. Here are our 3 top tips to prepare for a difficult remote conversation.

Think about the technology

Try to create a more personal and the least distracting environment to have your difficult conversation in. You need to be able to have a one to one uninterrupted platform to effectively interact with the other person.

You may want to use a phone connection for your voice and reserve bandwidth for video if your internet connection isn’t great. Think about your surroundings. Keep them free from distractions you may have in the video or phone call. You both need to be in an environment that helps you concentrate on the conversation itself.

Use eye contact

Effective eye contact is essential when having emotionally charged and difficult conversations. Making eye contact with the person you’re talking to is important, so that you can deliver information in a sympathetic and caring way.

It can be difficult to use tone of voice and facial expressions to convey emotions in a virtual setting so practice your delivery in front of a mirror or video yourself and adjust as necessary until you feel it’s right.

Language and tone of voice

Carefully plan what you are going to say and how you’re going to deliver your messages. Think about the types of words and language you’ll use. Recognise the emotive power of words and choose yours wisely to affect the meaning you really want to convey. Think about your tone of voice. Do you need to adjust or practice how you speak, to project a feeling of calm and control into a potentially stressful situation, or enable you to diffuse a negative response?

In conclusion, having difficult conversations needn’t be difficult, whether that’s face to face or remotely. But being able to confidently, effectively and sympathetically conduct the conversation is key to a successful one.

The great news is, the skills and techniques to be able to do this authentically and with great results is absolutely something you can learn and improve upon.

If you or any of your team need help with how to have difficult conversations remotely, we’d love to help. If you have a challenge in mind please get in touch with us here.