How to have difficult conversations at work?

April 24, 2024
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Difficult conversations at work can be challenging, but they are often necessary to address critical issues and maintain a healthy workplace environment. You may also be surprised how this exercise can reshape your relationships with your colleagues and/or employees.  

Before jumping on the practical steps, don’t forget to remain respectful and professional. Addressing issues, even if you feel hurt, doesn’t mean attacking or blaming people or being full of judgements. It is essential to respect each others’ points of view and feelings regarding the situation because they are both as valid as yours.  

Moreover, don’t forget to respect everyone’s rhythm as long as the conversation progress. For instance, some people don’t feel comfortable having a direct conversation, others may not look you in the eyes or may need some silences to think more deeply and to connect with their emotions.  

Here are some steps to consider when you want to have a difficult conversation :  


1.      Plan ahead what you want to say and want to accomplish. List the talking points and the way you want to approach them, Don’t forget to also think about solutions.  

2.      Schedule a meeting with the concerned person and try to have the conversation when the other person is mentally available to talk. It is essential to have an appropriate private location that respects

confidentiality and prevents interruption.  

3.     Be clear and honest - be concise, focus on facts, talk in the first person and avoid making judgements or blame. Feel free to share your feelings about the situation to help the person understand how this affects you.  


4.     Be open to the other person’s perspective - you’re not here to win or lose. It is essential to understand the other’s point of view regarding the situation and not to interrupt them,. Even if you disagree allow them to share their feelings and the way they see the problem.  


5.     Remain calm and respectful - conversations can hurt so remain calm and respectful. Do not raise your voice or do not use inappropriate language. Try to stay open: it doesn’t mean you have to agree with the other’s point of view, however, stay constructive it will help in the future interactions.


6.     Be solution-oriented - once you’ve both had the chance to discuss the situation, talk about potential solutions. Be creative, listen to others’ ideas and work together to come up with an agreement or action plan.  


7.      Follow up - don’t forget to follow up on the situation to be sure the potential agreement or action are carried out. Check with the other person if any changes are needed.  

In conclusion, it is essential to consider your own needs, explore the potential outcomes, collaborate on solutions, and follow up on the situation. The more you practice this exercise, the more comfortable and equipped you will be to handle other difficult conversations.



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