To my mind, there may never be enough material out there on difficult conversations so happy to pass on this one which focuses on tactics to reduce stress in difficult conversations.
It’s worth the full read for some of the suggested tactics for particular types of difficult conversations.
General information for all tense interactions:
Be aware of your own reactions to stress so that you can modulate effectively.
Practice what you want to say with a neutral colleague – start with a no holds barred version and then work to dial it back.
Think, in advance, of some key phrases that you could rely on during a difficult conversation so that you can recall them. Though it sounds a bit contrived, I have to agree with the reason why this is suggested – it’s like CPR training – you can’t always rely on finding the right words under stress.
“Honour your partner” – take responsibility for your own actions which may have contributed to the conflict.
Disarm by stating your intentions – can be as simple as saying, “I can see how that could have been understood but that isn’t what I meant.”
Fight tactics not people – a good variation on focus on the problem not the person.