Whenever you are managing people, you will sometimes need to have a tough conversation with a member of your team.  Maybe because someone clearly underperformed or showed lack of respect or loyalty – or simply behaved in a non-acceptable way.

Whatever the reason, you need to have a conversation with this team member. In such tough conversations, you need to be confident because you only have this conversation and you know that something must be addressed and corrected.

But the most important attitude to bring to a difficult conversation is actually a blend of confidence and curiosity. On one hand, you need to have thought through your position enough to have confidence in your point of view, and at the same time, you need to have enough humility to be interested in any facts that might influence your views and consequently your conclusion.

We sometimes resist curiosity because we think it signals weakness in the context of a tough conversation. But in fact, it does the opposite. It makes us more persuasive because when we listen deeply and sincerely, the other side feels less of a need to resist us in order to be heard. So remember the old saying: “The best way to persuade others is with your ears, by listening.”

 We are the sports practice of global advisory firm Burson Cohn & Wolfe. We provide strategy and communication advice for sports clients around the world. For more information: www.bcw-sport.com