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? Who are you training them to be (or not)?

It reminds me of a quote from Zig Ziglar: “The only thing worse than training employees and losing them is not training them and keeping them.” True statement. If you can’t be honest with peers and employees it will be an element of your company’s cultural. It likely will put your company on a path to harder times and lower results.

I have heard hard conversations referred to as “courageous conversations.” The truth is this refers to difficult conversations usually dealing with a performance issue, an attitude issue, a disagreement on an important business issue or something similar. These types of conversations need to happen in a timely manner to have the best effect, i.e. provide constant feedback in real time and not months later during a review process.

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 ignoring or sugarcoating important matters part of your company’s culture. If you do, nothing will change and opportunities will be lost.