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Product Managers Can Use These Techniques To Master Difficult Work Conversations

Photo by Etienne Boulanger on Unsplash

Why are difficult conversations difficult?

  1. The “What happened” layer. What’s the story here?
  2. The Feelings layer. Uncovering how you really feel.
  3. The Identify layer. What does this say about me?
Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

The “What happened” Layer

Photo by Toimetaja tõlkebüroo on Unsplash

The Feelings Layer

  1. Reframe feelings to be something you are experiencing vs. who you are. For example, don’t say you are angry. Say that you are experiencing anger.
  2. Second, question what might be behind this emotion? Are there other ways you might describe how you are feeling? Here is a useful reference.
Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

The Identity Layer

  • Am I competent?
  • Am I a good person?
  • Am I worthy of love?
  1. Use the 10/10/10 framework to gain perspective on your situation. Ask yourself: Will this matter in ten minutes? Ten months? Ten years?
  2. Get help. You might need a therapist or a coach, or just a friend acting in one of those roles to get past identity-related questions.

Mastering Difficult Conversations

  1. Begin from the third person
  2. Listen more intently
  3. Speak for yourself with clarity

The Third Person

Listen Intently

  • Make Space
  • Observe and validate
  • Ask
  • Repeat and confirm

Speak Up With Clarity


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Shobhit Chugh

Founder at Intentional Product Manager ( Product @Google, @Tamr, @Lattice_Engines, @Adaptly. Worked at @McKinsey