Difficult conversations at work are never easy, but there are simple strategies available to help.


Most of us try to avoid conflict. Writer Brittney Maxfield states that 80 per cent of workers are trying to avoid at least one difficult work conversation they know they need to have. Unfortunately, avoidance strategies usually don’t work, so the solution is to learn how to have these conversations in a way that produces a good outcome for both of you. Here are some simple tips on having difficult conversations while also keeping relationships intact:

Don’t wait. Get in the habit of delivering feedback regularly and address issues as soon as they arise. 

Change your mindset. Think of it as just another office conversation. By approaching the situation positively, the energy you bring should also be positive. 

Practice. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll become.

Prepare beforehand. Don’t try to rehearse or create a script. Instead, write down three things you want to accomplish and focus on them.

Manage your emotions. Have the conversation in an even tone and keep it professional.

Be empathetic. Consider the other person and give them time to process their emotions.

Tough talks can be awkward. The key is to approach them with honesty and empathy.


Apr 2021 Indeed How To Have Difficult Conversations with Employees

Jun 2021 AFR Three tips for having difficult conversations

Aug 2021 HBR How to Have Those Difficult Return-to-Office Conversations