How to have Difficult Conversations

There are practical things we can all do when we find ourselves facing difficult conversations with colleagues, to ensure our communication is clear, empathetic and meaningful.

Consider the seven pieces of advice which will be shared shortly in the video, and are briefly summarised below:

Step 1: 
Ask if you can arrange a suitable time and place with the other person.
Step 2: Set or request a clear 
intention for the conversation. 
Step 3: Try to hold, or request that the conversation be held 
in-person where possible.  
Step 4: Listen to understand rather than to respond. 
Step 5: Consider the facts– be specific & state what you have noticed or what you are aware of. 
Step 6: Offer and request both corrective & positive feedback
Step 7: Thank the other person to demonstrate your goodwill.

Now consider the following reflective prompt questions below as you prepare to watch the video. We encourage you to write down your responses (or record in another method of your choice). Writing or recording your experience can help to clarify and consolidate your thoughts and feelings.

  • Why is it important to arrange a suitable time and place, wherever possible, when facing a difficult conversation?
  • Why is it important to establish a clear intention for the conversation?
  • What are the benefits to having a conversation in person (as opposed to over the phone, online or via email)?
  • Why is it important to allow for moments of silence during a difficult conversation?
  • Why is it important to consider the known facts?
  • What is the benefit of seeking and providing feedback when having difficult conversations?
  • Why should you always endeavour to thank the other person after the conversation?