Career Moves



Harriet Kempton

Difficult Conversations

  • by Harriet Kempton
  • 1 Jun 2017

Having a difficult conversation is never easy, and more so perhaps when it involves colleagues.

Harvard Business Review recently published an article looking at how these conversations can lead to “frustration, resentment, and wasted time and effort”. In order to get the best out of difficult conversations, here are some tips to assist you next time you find yourself having to broach a difficult conversation:

  • Shift the relationship from opposition to partnership
  • Reframe your purpose from convincing to learning
  • Verbalize your intention
  • Avoid assumptions. 
  • Examine the other’s perspective with openness and curiosity
  • Acknowledge your part.
  • Learn your A-BCDs - Avoid Blame, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling
  • Seek input to problem solving.

 You may also like to do the following:

  • Name the issue
  • Describe a specific example
  • Describe your emotions about an issue
  • Clarify what is at stake
  • Identify your contribution to this problem
  • Indicate your wish to resolve the issue
  • Invite your colleague to respond

Next time you are having an issue getting your point across, unable to communicate effectively with a colleague or struggling to deal with a problem, try some of these tactics and see if it makes a difference to the way in which you communicate / deal with a issue at work.

Difficult conversations should happen because people want to do better and improve their workplace and their communication / relationship with their colleagues.

You can find further information here:


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