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How To Handle Tough Conversations On Zoom

Having a difficult conversation with an employee is never fun, even in the best of circumstances. With the advent of remote and hybrid work, however, tough conversations have become increasingly difficult to have over on a virtual call as well as a a phone call.

If hybrid and remote work is truly here to stay, it’s going to be important for hiring teams to develop a strategy for how to have the necessary but difficult conversations that are inevitable. 

Below is everything you need to know for how to handle tough conversations virtually.

Types of tough conversations in the workplace

Before we get into some tips for managing tough conversations in the workplace, let's look at what some of these difficult conversations might look like. 

Types of tough conversations in the workplace might include:

  • Layoffs
  • Furloughs
  • Disciplinary discussions
  • Changes in roles or responsibilities
  • Company value alignment or attitude discussions
  • Addressing toxicity in the workplace
  • Personnel changes
  • Discussions over deadlines or productivity

Difficult conversations, in business as in the many other aspects of life, are always easier to have in person. Reading facial expressions, body language, and having the immediacy of the person in front of you all contribute to smoother interactions and lines of communication. 

However, that doesn’t mean that productive and healthy conversations are impossible to have in remote settings. Below we’ll look at some tips on how you can navigate difficult conversations virtually.

Tips for difficult situations virtually

Despite the challenges presented through video chat or Zoom calls, it’s possible to have smooth interactions around difficult conversations. Below we’ll get into some tips for how you can manage difficult conversations over Zoom. 

  • Prepare for the conversation
    • Planning for difficult conversations are always important, but when you don’t have the luxury of being face-to-face, it’s especially important to have a plan. This means creating a conversation outline and mentally preparing for the kind of blowback you might receive. Empathy, clarity, and understanding your employees will all contribute to a positive interaction.
  • Be prompt
    • Difficult conversations, especially if your employees are expecting it, are already stressful enough. You owe it to your employees to be prompt and not delay the call.
  • Make the call as private as possible
    • Tough conversations, especially surrounding disciplinary action or layoffs, can be filled with shame, anxiety, and stress. It’s important to ensure you set aside some time where you will be alone and in a quiet setting. Witnesses, noise in the background, or a busy room can all make the conversation that much more difficult.
  • Encourage responses/conversation
    • It’s important, like it is in person, to build rapport and encourage conversation leading up to the heart of conversation. This isn’t to say to distract or mislead, but that you can still establish some rapport by asking questions and building some basic conversation to settle into the discussion.
  • Ways to make it feel like it’s in-person
    • There are a few ways you can make the conversation as close to in-person as possible. Be sure to keep your camera on, remove background distractions, discuss goals for the meeting, provide facial expressions and bodily gestures, create a back-and-forth dialogue, and recap the conversation at the end. 

If a lot of these may seem like things you already do in-person, it’s because that’s part of the point. You want these interactions to feel as natural and human as possible. Technology can create gaps between individuals, but you can bridge that gap by being intentional about practicing healthy communication habits.

Crosschq will help you develop the right team

Although difficult conversations are inevitable, you can navigate them more effectively and less often when you hire the right team members. This is where a data-drivenhiring and reference check solution, like Crosschq, can help to empower your hiring decisions.

Find the right candidates from day one with Crosschq’s propriety talent intelligence technology and see your potential grow. Check out a free demo to see how Crosschq can help you find the right candidates today.

Mark Ko

by Mark Ko

Content Writer

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