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Having Difficult Conversations

We’ve all experienced times when we were so angry at someone, we wanted to yell at them. I once attended a training that taught me a powerful formula for having challenging conversations. It’s called the DFAA formula, and it has helped me navigate tricky situations with grace.

Let me walk you through the four steps:

  1. Describe - First, calmly describe the situation and how it makes you feel. Avoid using "you" statements, which can sound accusatory. For example, I might say: "I feel frustrated when I'm not consulted on scheduling. As the executive assistant, I want to leverage my calendar knowledge to accommodate urgent customer requests."

  2. Facts - Next, objectively state the facts of what happened. Again, avoid "you" and stick to specifics.  For instance: "On Monday, I overheard you and [leader's name] discussing a customer call that I then had to schedule last minute. Two weeks ago, a similar call was scheduled without my knowledge."

  3. Action - Request a specific action the person can take to remedy the situation.  Such as: "Going forward, I would appreciate you partnering with me on urgent scheduling needs so I can fully utilize my calendar expertise."

  4. Agreement - Conclude by getting their agreement on a solution. You might ask: "How can we make this work better for both of us?"

Using this formula can help confront issues calmly and assertively. While there are no guarantees, it provides a framework for resolving conflicts amicably. With practice, the DFAA method can strengthen your personal and professional relationships.


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