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How to Handle Difficult Conversations at Work


Having difficult conversations at work can be uncomfortable, but they are often necessary to address issues and find solutions. Here are some tips for having difficult conversations at work:


Prepare in advance: Before the conversation, prepare what you want to say and how you want to say it. Think about what outcome you want to achieve and consider how the other person might respond. Showing that you have come with clear and concise talking points will allow you to have a productive discussion on the topics that are crucial to your success working with the other person. 

Choose the right time and place: Choose a private and neutral location for the conversation and ensure that you have enough time to discuss the issue thoroughly. Reserve a meeting room, or meet for lunch at a coffee shop or restaurant near by. This will give you a more comfortable place to have a private conversation. 

Use clear and specific language: Use clear and specific language to explain the issue and how it is impacting the situation. Avoid vague or emotional language. Really be honest but not hurtful with the other person. You do not want to burn any bridges after this conversation. 

Listen actively: Listen to the other person’s perspective and try to understand their point of view. Show empathy and ask questions to clarify their position. This is not a time to shut down! Come to the meeting with a positive attitude and open mind. 

Stay calm and respectful: Stay calm and respectful throughout the conversation, even if the other person becomes defensive or emotional. Avoid personal attacks or blaming language.

Focus on solutions: Work together to find a solution that addresses the issue and meets both parties’ needs. Consider compromises and alternative solutions.

Follow up: After the conversation, follow up with the other person to ensure that the issue has been resolved and that there are no lingering concerns or misunderstandings.

Remember that difficult conversations are a necessary part of working in a team, and they can ultimately lead to better communication, understanding, and productivity. By approaching them with preparation, clear communication, and a solution-focused mindset, you can navigate them successfully.


Drew Brown 

Vice President, Godshall Recruiting