Many people are conflict-averse and do their best to avoid discord.

I am one of them.

But to be a strong leader, one must engage in courageous conversations — the ones that can be sticky, painful, and uncomfortable.

Here’s a process that can make them easier. Heads up to Robert Gass for his insight:

(1) Identify the purpose of the courageous conversation. Why are you having it? Is it to unblock a project? Is it to strengthen an employees’ performance? Is it to end a vendor relationship?

(2) Identify the specific outcome you want from the conversation? Is it an agreed-upon project roadmap? Is it to set up a monthly performance review? Is it a specific date that you wish to end a relationship?

(3) Identify the process you want for the conversation. No meeting should be without an agenda. No courageous conversation should happen without pre-thought into how it should unfold? Do you want to have it in an office? Do you want to have a walk and talk? Do you want to start the conversation? Do you want to ask questions to prompt the person you are engaging with? Think through these steps beforehand and your conversation will go much more smoothly.

These three steps won’t make your conversations easy, but they will make them