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What difficult conversation are you not having today?

Posted in Articles

This blog was written by author Sarah Simpson.

If I was to ask you if there is a difficult conversation you know you should have or a time when you have ‘spoken around a difficult conversation’, I know the answer would be “yes”. No doubt you find these conversations challenging, or anxiety-inducing and you are most certainly not alone! The good news is that by employing a variety of techniques and approaches you will be undertaking, honest, authentic, positive conversations in no time at all.



What is a difficult conversation?

A difficult or challenging conversation is one in which you have to manage emotions and information in a sensitive way in order to; address poor performance or conduct, deal with personal problems, investigate complaints/deal with grievances, or comfort or reassure someone. Is it any wonder then that they can be tricky to negotiate?


What can happen if you don’t have that difficult conversation?

  • Store up an even more challenging conversation further down the line
  • Stop the employee from putting things right
  • Stop the employee from improving
  • Mislead the employee into thinking everything is ok
  • Alienate other members of staff who don’t see you acting
  • Lower the moral of the team
  • Damage your productivity and/or efficiency
  • Damage your professional reputation


6 essential insights, confidence & skills you need

1. Be assertive
Recognise how assertive you are. Is this situational, or person specific? Examine an assertiveness formula. Having a structured approach, which covers all the essential elements can help. Practice using this formula using your own example. This gives you confidence and a ‘safe space’ to run-through before ‘the real thing’

2. Recognise how using feedback models can help
 BEER; behaviour, effect, expectations, results
BOOST; balanced, objective, observed, specific, timely
CEDAR; clarify, explain, discuss, agree, review

3. Learn how to say “no”, whilst maintaining respect, relationships and professionalism

4. Deal with aggression. Employing a simple technique will ensure you, maintain, your position and professional relationships, without you compromising on your standpoint and values

5. Listen actively. Really understand a person’s point of view, even if you think you know what’s going on or, you’ve heard it all before

6. Recognise & learn how to prevent 10 common conversation mistakes


Learn how to prevent the 10 common conversation mistakes and more in Having Difficult Conversations by Sarah Simpson