How to Handle Difficult Conversations

Be prepared and gather your thoughts before the conversation

  • Take time to understand the real reason you want to talk to the person.
  • If you want to blame, make them feel bad, stick it to them etc, then you may get your wish, but it will be a very difficult and uncomfortable conversation and you may make things worse. Therefore defer the conversation until you calm down.
  • Take the time to understand why these feelings /thoughts were evoked in you, so that you become more aware of yourself and you can share this clearly with the person when the time is right.
  • Decide on what you want the outcome the conversation to be – Big Hint your outcome should be a win/win.

Provide space for enquiry and listening

  • Find out the  other person’s perspective first.
  • Listen with an open mind by cultivating an attitude of discovery and curiosity.
  • Allow them to share uninterrupted, don’t take anything personally.
  • Acknowledge what you have heard by repeating your understanding of what you heard.

Do explain your point of view and agree a way forward

  • Share your perspective in a rationale way.
  • If the conversation becomes adversarial, revert to inquiry.
  • Agree on the best way to move forward.


140728 bpd logo clear backgroundThis business tip is sponsored by BPD Associates Limited, a JobsTT partner.   If you want support in developing yourself and/or your team on this topic, please visit