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Having certain conversations with your superiors can be difficult especially when they are about matters such as promotions, increments, wanting to leave the job or problems regarding difficult colleagues. More often than not, you will find yourself putting off having these conversations simply because you cannot muster up the courage to do so.

However, for the sake of organisational productivity, the betterment of your team and, most importantly, for the sake of your own managerial competence, it is important to have these conversations.

Here are some things to keep in mind before having the dreaded talk:

1. Use primers to initiate the conversation. Some tried and tested ones include: “I have a concern and I would like to share my thoughts with you and get your feedback.” Or, “I feel like I am in a bind; I would like to talk about a problem, but I am afraid it might upset you.” Feel free to modify these examples; come up with primers that suit your personality and comfort level.

2. Choose an appropriate time. Postpone the discussion if the timing is bad, if your boss is busy or simply not in a good mood; timing is critical to having a fruitful conversation.

3. Prepare yourself. Do some deep breathing exercises to calm your nerves; be prepared with responses to possible objections that your boss may have regarding what you have to say. Practise out loud, or run it by a colleague.

4. Have a clear stance. This is essential to steer the conversation in the right direction. Share your thoughts clearly and back up your case with facts and figures.

5. Be tactful. This is essential; you must find a balance between being polite and sticking firmly to your point. Don’t be offensive or aggressive, keep the conversation subject-oriented and don’t make personal remarks.

Remember – you may risk failure by trying something new, but not trying guarantees it!

– Mohammad Muneeb Kidwai
The writer is trainer, teacher, author and coach at The Change Agency. info@thechangeagency.com.pk

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 8, 2012.