Difficult conversations are hard enough when they happen in person. When you have to have one virtually — with a remote worker or a boss in another city, for example — you can take a few steps to help the conversation go smoothly. First, use a videoconferencing tool, such as Skype, so that eye contact, facial expressions, and tone of voice will be apparent. You want the other person to be able to understand both what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. Second, go somewhere private and quiet for the call, and ask the other person to do the same. If possible, make sure neither of you is dealing with any distractions. Third, be specific about what you’re saying. When we’re physically distant from someone, we’re more likely to view them, or the difficult situation, abstractly. That’s why it’s so important to be detailed, whether you’re giving feedback or delivering bad news. Making notes before the meeting can ensure that you cover all the points you need to.

Adapted from “How to Have Difficult Conversations Virtually,” by Art Markman

Share with cohorts