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How to Handle Tricky Professional Situations with Delicacy and Diplomacy


Communicating in the business world requires a certain level of finesse and skill. However, some situations are trickier than others. In this week’s blog, we discuss three situations that many people find difficult: offering criticism, saying “no”, and avoiding office gossip.

Offering criticism: Telling someone that you’re unhappy with their performance can be uncomfortable, but there are ways to use communication to make the situation less unpleasant for everyone involved. One great way to make criticism sting less is to use “I” statements. For example, instead of saying, “You clearly didn’t prepare for this presentation,” you might say, “I was somewhat disappointed in your presentation today. I usually see a much higher caliber of work in your performance.” Your message will still be received, but will be much less abrasive.

Saying “no”: Everyone wants to be agreeable and helpful in the workplace, but’s okay to say “no” to tasks or events that you don’t want to be a part of. Try creating a “Positivity Sandwich”: Begin and end your response on a positive note, sandwiching your denial in between. For example: “This sounds like a really interesting project and I appreciate all the work that you’ve put in. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to take part this time around. But thank you for thinking of me!”

Avoiding gossip: A professional setting is where maintaining an honest and confident image is the most essential. By indulging in gossip with others in the workplace, you send the message that you are insecure and more interested in discussing what’s happening in the lives of others than your professional performance. If you find yourself in a conversation with a coworker who tries to drag you into a gossip-laden conversation, simply find a reason to politely excuse yourself from the conversation and end the interaction. By doing this repeatedly, you send the message that you are uninterested in spreading gossip, and others will eventually stop approaching you with this type of conversation.

If your communication skills are holding you back from professional success and you want to make your communication skills your most powerful professional tool, make sure to pick up a free copy of my e-book “Communicate with Clarity and Confidence!” by subscribing to our newsletter community on our website. In this free resource, I break down the myriad factors that contribute to confident communication and guide you through how to use each aspect to your advantage.

Give us a call and see how Corporate Speech Solutions can improve your professional life! Call us at 212-308-7725 or send us an e-mail at jayne@corporatespeechsolutions.com to learn more. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have!

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