Difficult conversations and how to have them

Difficult conversations are, by definition, not easy. But unfortunately, they are a necessity within the workplace. They can vary in their severity depending on the situation, the person and the delivery. Two of these variable you (I am guessing) you will have little control over. So focus on the delivery, here are my tips on how to make those difficult conversations a little bit less, well, difficult.

Plan ahead.

Anticipate questions or objections that the other person may have and make sure that you are able to answer. Whilst you may not be able to anticipate every eventuality, taking some time before engaging in the conversation will hopefully allow you to be clearer and avoid getting flustered.

Get to the point.

As much as it is tempting to go around all the houses before delivering bad news ultimately it is much better for the other person if you get to the point. Be concise and clear, rather than masking the purpose of the conversation. Being specific and thorough, put yourself in their position, I am sure you would appreciate as much information as possible.

Have empathy.

Whilst this difficult conversation may put you in a bit of an awkward spot, don’t forget about the feelings of the other person. Being direct with feedback does not mean that you should lack empathy and ensure that you balance the two.

Allow for questions.

You might want to just get the conversation over with, but make sure you respect the other person and allow them to ask questions. By doing so you are helping the other person process what’s happened, and it allows you to clarify and solidify details of the conversation.

Perhaps most importantly of all Don’t put them off. We are all (potentially) guilty of this and as tempting as it is to avoid them and put your head in the sand, quite simply don’t. It’s not fair and it ain’t right.

Good luck and have a good week.


Adam Williams

Technical & Engineering Consultant

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