90 Percent

Project management, productivity, change management, and more!


4 tips to be diplomatic in tough conversations

Often you will be faced to tell someone something he may not want to hear, whether it’s a bad news, giving an answer to a question that you know will not please, or maybe it’s a last-minute request.

Regardless, there are many different ways to communicate this, some of which are more efficient than others. Here are some tips to help you deliver a message the right way:

1. Watch your facial expression and body language

One thing that can speak louder than words is your body language , so be careful how you look when you have something “tricky” to say or ask.

For example, avoid having a smile when you are announcing a bad news to someone; it may be because you are nervous, but you still need to be careful because it can greatly offend who you are talking to.

There are many things to consider when thinking about body language which will not be covered in this article, but a quick research on the web and you’ll easily find plenty of tips 🙂

2. Do not beat around the bush but balance it

If you have something to say, say it in a reasonnably short amount of time.  If you talk, and talk, and talk, and never get to the point, the person you are talking to may get irritated, more worried, or worst, and will be less likely to be open-minded about what you are going to say.

Do be careful and balance how you handle this; a short introduction or a small “Sorry but…” never hurts, if you cut everything to the bone and drop the bomb, you may also come as too abrupt.

3. Explain why

Receiving a bad news or a last-minute request is never really fun, but not knowing why it has to be that way can be even worst; take the time to explain the context and answer questions, this will help motivate or attenuate any negative feelings.

4. Listen, and care for the response

Most likely the person will want to explain/justify or even ventilate; whatever it is, part of being diplomatic is not only how you share the information but also how you are overall inside the conversation. If you do not care about what the person replies, or if you listen but give no follow-up answer, it will frustrate the other even more.

In conclusion

Diplomacy is very important and will help you in all the communication you are involved in. Take this seriously and the result may surprise you!


One of the most important question ever

There is one question that can be asked over and over again and yet, it never gets old. It’s simple, short, efficient…but what is it?

It’s: “Why?“.

I hope you’re not disappointed 🙂

It’s actually a very important question, and yet, usually, it’s not asked, therefore, it’s not answered. Here I will focus around productivity and the context of project management but keep in mind that this question can apply to every situation of your life.

Why to ask it

By asking the question, you are forced to answer it. By doing so, you make sure that what you are about to do has meaning, has a purpose, has a goal, etc. It makes sure you are on the right path.

Ignore it, and you will have a hard time reaching your goals, or your project’s goals.

When to ask it

When a suggestion is given, or a decision is being considered, the question “why?” should be asked. Often people will suggest ideas, and will even be very persuasive when suggesting it, and yet, when you ask them “why should we do this?”, you will receive poor quality answers like: Isn’t it obvious?, because it’s cool, everybody does it, I think people will like it”.

Another situation is that a team will make a decision, but then you ask the famous question…. and everyone mutters words here and there, but nobody knows why it should be done, they were just happy to do it, but they find out it would not help the project at all.

What the answer should show you

The answer for the question “Why?” should confirm if the idea, the decision, or anything else serves it’s purpose. Remember that time is money, and in your project’s budget, I’m certain you did not include a budget for “doing things with no reason”. It gives meaning and value to what is being said.

It may also show that even though it’s a good idea, it’s not coherent with the project’s goals, therefore, you should find something else. For example, you may find out by asking “why should we add a contest on our website?” that it will drive new traffic to the website, but if the goal of the new promotion is to get users to stay longer on the website, then the idea is not the right one. If you do not ask “Why?”, you may skip that valuable thinking, do your contest, and find out that the users still leave your website within 30 seconds. Generally, it’s after that failed attempt that people ask “Why didn’t it work?”. Instead of wasting time and money by asking the question after, ask “Why should we do it?” before!

In conclusion

Simple: ask the question often, it’s important, reveals a lot, and also, it’s free!