A survival strategy for tough talks

One of the hardest parts of work life is having conversations you know will leave the other person disappointed. What makes these conversations so hard is the “cringe moment,” says leadership expert Peter Bregman. That’s the pause that occurs after you say something that’s hard to hear and before the other person responds.

To get past that moment and im­­prove the clarity of your conversation, start by saying the one thing you’re dreading and then explain yourself. That will feel awkward, but delaying the punchline is just procrastinating the inevitable. Most people can take bad news, but they need you to be clear when you’re delivering it.

— Adapted from “How to Start a Conversation You’re Dreading,” Peter Bregman, Harvard Business Review.