“I really like them personally…it’s just… ” Have you heard or said this? I’m guessing so, at least once or twice, right?

How about this one? “Don’t take it personally.” Is there a faster way for you to absorb comments as personal? Likely not!

When preparing to have a difficult conversation (perhaps termination meeting) we often start with the personal likeability as if to absolve the rest of the professional, and difficult, words. When we receive this message, it feels personal. Therefore, when you deliver it, know that feeling is going to show up in the person you are talking with.

As managers and leaders your words have more impact. Be clear in your professional conversations to leave out the personal. This distinguishes the person from the problem. You are in this difficult discussion to solve a problem, not solve a person. When it is personal, it can’t get resolved.

Look for language that prompts understanding and solution of the problem, inviting the person to participate in creating the path forward. And, watch your difficult conversations become less difficult.