Engage in the difficult conversation

Leaders can engage in a difficult conversation if they are prepared. Some points to keep in mind for this are-

  • Keep the conversation professional by focusing on behaviour and facts.
  • Be specific and clear. Use examples.
  • Speak in a calm manner.
  • Use ‘I’ statements, for example ‘I sense that...’, ‘I feel that...’
  • Acknowledge the other person's feelings and view of the situation.
  • Actively listen to the other person without judging.
  • Ensure you understand what the other person has said. Repeat back what the other person has said and check with them if you have heard it correctly.
  • Accept some responsibility if appropriate: for example, ‘Maybe I didn’t make my expectations clear at the beginning, I apologise.’
  • Come up with a solution together. If the other person doesn’t have solutions, propose a solution and ask for their thoughts. Offer support
  • Clarify the takeaway message
  • If appropriate and needed, agree on a review date to follow up. Consider if is it appropriate to formalise next steps, goals, commitments, and timeframes?
Return to top of page Back to top