5 Key Guidelines For Difficult Conversations, Especially At Work

Difficult conversations are bound to happen in any relationship, personal or at work. Here's how to make them healthy and effective.

Did you know that over 1.5 million results appear when you search for the term: “difficult conversations” on Google?

Here’s what to consider before and while having them.

Effective communication during difficult conversations is imperative

Difficult conversations are characterised by high-strung emotions, reactions and resistance. This happens as the topic might be sensitive for either party or both. Nonetheless, they must be had, because they are important. A person is considered effective in communication if they learn to initiate, engage and state the desired results while engaging in such difficult conversations.

There are various approaches to initiating a difficult conversation. But based on the context, we need to alter the tone, syntax and framing of the problem. Navigating through difficult conversations unscathed and obtaining the best outcome is not always plausible. But some techniques can help the initiator stay in control of the conversation.

Learning the strategy to communicate during such conversations can prevent irreparable damage. According to various reports, ineffective communication in the healthcare sector is a leading cause of significant negative impacts on patient safety and health concerns.

Before engaging in difficult conversations, it is necessary to consider some of these aspects.

Difficult conversations cannot be circumvented and must be had at the right time

It is important to have such conversations when something begins to concern you. Avoiding it can prove detrimental in the long run. Delaying these conversations will prove problematic for both parties. Thus, delaying the conversation is not beneficial to everyone involved in the conversation.

Understand that the other person may express a range of emotions at varying intensities

As difficult conversations affect us, our emotions can overpower us. Such feelings can lead to unexpected reactions and statements, which only the person evincing them can control.

Never miss real stories from India's women.

Register Now

Hence, be compassionate and do not prevent them from expressing themselves. Cutting them off while they are experiencing these emotions can escalate the situation, which is not salvageable. So, handle the person delicately. Assess their current mental state and if they are in a position to carry out a coherent conversation. Once this has been determined, move forward with it.

Do not let your relationship with the individual make you avoid the conversation altogether

One of the many reasons to avoid difficult conversations is the kind of relationship that a person may share with the other individual. Irrespective of whether the relationship is intimate, or whether the individual is in a higher position at work, do not abandon this conversation out of fear of altering the status quo.

A difficult conversation must be had if it is essential to your welfare or theirs. The context could be either official or unofficial. The individual’s opinion about the person and the nature of the relationship may alter the course of the conversation. We must be prepared for other outcomes after such conversations.

Be ready for unpredictable reactions from the other end

Statements that are made during these conversations can impact an individual’s behaviour, performance and results. These need not necessarily be in the predicted manner. We need to carefully consider the body language, parlance, syntax and lexicon used during such difficult conversations.

It is possible to predict the behaviour of the person during such situations. Even in such cases, the conversation does not become less indispensable.

The reason these conversations are labelled “difficult”, is because the very crux of the topic meant to be discussed is unique and challenging. On occasions, both parties involved can experience distress and discomfort. So, consider how behaviour from both sides can become a roadblock to what could be a productive conversation.

Image Credit: Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

Liked this post?

Join the 100000 women at Women's Web who get our weekly mailer and never miss out on our events, contests & best reads - you can also start sharing your own ideas and experiences with thousands of other women here!


About the Author


An aspiring woman who is much more than her body type, selfies, shoes, looks and intellect read more...

34 Posts | 154,326 Views

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

All Categories