A lot of people sugarcoat what they say to save other’s feelings. This is good in theory, but detrimental to your business. If you cannot have honest, hard conversations with your peers and employees, what does that say about your business? What are you training them to do or be (or not)?

It reminds me of a quote someone sent me yesterday from Zig Ziglar: “The only thing worse than training employees and losing them is not training them and keeping them.” Right! If you can’t be honest with peers and employees that will be an element of your company’s cultural, and a bad one, and you are headed for lower results.

I have heard hard conversations referred to as “courageous conversations.” The truth is they are hard or difficult conversations usually dealing with a performance issue, an attitude issue, a disagreement on an important business issue or deal, or something similar. These types of conversations need to happen in a timely manner to have the best effect.

There is a mountain of information online and numerous books on this topic. What they generally say is that as part of sharing negative information, you also should accentuate the positive. If you manage people you should read and speak to others to learn how to have hard conversations, which do not come naturally for most people. That is how you can make difficult conversations constructive and a benefit to you, the other person and your business.

Of course, you can and should tailor what you are going to say based on who you are speaking with. But don’t make sugarcoating important matters part of your company’s culture or nothing will change and opportunities will be lost.