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Difficult Conversations

keeping the mentoring relationship on track

Futurpreneur Canada

on 18 March 2014

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Transcript of Difficult Conversations

Giulianna would like Lucas to respect her time, be punctual and attend
mentoring meetings.

Giulianna can take Lucas to his favourite poutinerie and begin by affirming her belief in Lucas and the mentoring relationship.

Giulianna can calmly explain her concern regarding missed meetings while remaining curious and asking Lucas about his situation in the last two months. She can seek clarification on why it's happening without placing blame.

Giulianna and Lucas can agree on one or two steps to get back on track
– such as less frequent meetings at a time and place that supports Lucas. They can set a time to revisit progress in implementing the solution.

Use the difficult conversations framework to guide you through
the process:
Set the stage for a positive outcome: consider environment and your openness to resolution.
Emphasize how important it is for you to contribute to the entrepreneur’s success; come from a place of care and concern.

State the issue clearly.

Be sensitive to the fact that the entrepreneur is probably aware of the issue.

Probe to understand the causes behind the issue. Listen and paraphrase
the entrepreneur's words.

Stay grounded and agree on one or two improvements to
be implemented.

Monitor and acknowledge progress towards improvement.

Entrepreneur Lucas has missed a second meeting after
being late for the previous two.

He has a lot on his plate and loads of pressure.

The mentoring agreement is clear on the commitments
that were set.

Giulianna, Lucas’mentor, feels her valuable time is
being wasted.

Is there any difficult conversation that you are not having with your entrepreneur right now?

How do you plan to prepare and address it?

After a difficult conversation, how can you keep your mentoring focus: that of helping the entrepreneur develop the required confidence and competence to start and grow their business?

Take our survey and help us get better:
At some point in your mentoring relationship the need will arise. The key is to be aware and to recognize the need early on. Are you feeling:

Uncomfortable about broaching a topic with the entrepreneur?

Unease/apprehension when thinking about a topic you need to address with the entrepreneur?

It's time to have a difficult conversation.

Address your concern immediately to build trust and maintain respect in the mentoring relationship. Procrastinating until a “better time” may cause minor conflicts to snowball.

Handling a difficult conversation requires empathy, courage and commitment to the mentoring relationship. We've provided a framework to help guide you through the process.
"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak;
courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."
– Winston Churchill
Be clear about the issue and know what you want to accomplish:

How would you like things to change?

Choose a comfortable environment:
a nice place away from the daily bustle (i.e. a coffee shop, a park, or another peaceful location).

Have an open mind:
be curious, inquisitive, and willing to learn.

Go into the conversation as equals:
bring a caring and positive attitude.

Start by reaffirming that you value the relationship.

Consider mentioning your intention to make the relationship stronger, and to do so you would like to address an issue that needs resolving.

Communicate the issue clearly to reinforce why you called the meeting.

State you want to hear from the entrepreneur and help clear the air.

Be open to listening first:
Let the entrepreneur talk until they are finished
– don’t interrupt. Phrases like, “I see what you mean,” or, “I can appreciate that,” can help move the conversation forward.

Repeat in your own words what you heard.
The entrepreneur will be more open to your point of view when s/he notices you made an effort to understand theirs.

Keep grounded.
Speaking in a caring way while acknowledging any discomfort will help keep the conversation focused on solving the challenge.

Be comfortable with periods of silence.
Not rushing to fill in the space with words will have a calming effect, allowing both of you to reflect on the situation.

Assuming this has been constructive, both parties reaffirm their commitment to working together.

Summarize points of agreement from the discussion. What changes
have both of you agreed to make to resolve the issue?

As you go forward, you can monitor those commitments, remind
each other of the agreements and provide positive feedback.

If you feel you need additional assistance, feel free to contact your
CYBF Client Relationship Manager
for support.

Come from a position of equality, not superiority.

Believe in your entreprneur’s capability even when they may not yet have
the confidence in themselves.

Focus the conversation on one or two outcomes that could help the situation. Avoid letting things get too complicated.

Notice the “hot spots” for the entrepreneur, and do your best to avoid
triggering these areas.

Do your best to maintain your objectivity, and try not to take anything personally.

Show patience, empathy and calmness.

Your measured tone and body language can help put you both at ease.

Not fulfilling mentoring agreement and expectations. Attitudes or behaviours that detract from the mentoring experience.
Lapse in communication; difficulty expressing challenges.
Lack of focus or direction making meetings
less productive.
Mentoring insight requested, and no
follow-up or outcome.
Lack in accountability from either partner.
Full transcript