How to Handle Difficult Conversations at Work: 4 Amazing Tips to Follow

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How to Handle Difficult Conversations at Work

Have you ever struggled to handle difficult conversations at work? When things get sensitive or you think you won’t be able to communicate your thoughts or point to the other person, do you withdraw from the conversation? Don’t worry, this is a quite common situation at the workplace. Managing difficult conversations is an essential component of people management and cannot be avoided. We will provide you with simple strategies for handling challenging conversations at work in this blog.

Continue reading to level up your people skills at the workplace!!

Learn How to Handle Difficult Situations at Work?

4 Tips to Handle Difficult Conversations at Work

Source: Mel Robbins

1. Avoiding is not a solution

The first and most important thing to realize is that putting off difficult conversations for an extended period of time just makes them harder to handle. Some people may even develop anxieties, which can lead to an exaggerated mental complexity of the situation. 

The ideal technique to manage such circumstances is to have a one-on-one interaction with the person or group of people who are having trouble establishing common ground or understanding. It will be easier to resolve if everyone knows what they truly anticipate from the opposing side or from a decision-maker. Informing someone in advance of a one-on-one meeting will also help them get ready for how they need to present themselves, which would help them stay composed and control their emotions. 

Also, managing such situations without offending any of the individuals involved is a manager’s main responsibility. Thus, people experience being heard and understood instantly when a manager takes responsibility. After all, avoiding these kinds of circumstances isn’t a solution; managing larger teams often involves having difficult conversations. 

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2. Prioritize Facts over Feelings

    This is among the most crucial methods for managing difficult conversations in the workplace. Therefore, it is important to be able to distinguish between emotions and reality. When two people are arguing, attempt to ascertain what information each of them has to provide or say. Is the reason for your disagreement or their exaggeration stemming from a personal grudge against the other person? On the other hand, this shouldn’t happen at work.

    You must understand that different people have different ways of doing and handling things. The things that you find exciting may not be enough for others. 

    Thus, carrying out objectivity exercises in such situations really helps individuals to resolve such complex situations. This exercise helps in finding out what might be an assumption or projection. This can help to consider what advice you would give to a person in a reversed situation. 

    You might also feel overwhelmed in cases because you might have a nice equation with a person otherwise and did not expect such difficult conversations to happen in the first place. So, the best way is to first gather all facts and then take action towards the expected outcome. 

    Learn about the best strategies for effective team management

    3. Establish a Trustworthy and Honest Environment

      One of the common mistakes people make while handling difficult situations or conversations at work is not respecting employees and their feelings. Fostering trust and mutual respect is important in order to encourage people to keep them motivated enough for better output. Therefore, having regular feedback sessions and giving honest feedback by ensuring a trustworthy environment is one of the easiest ways to handle conflicts and difficult conversations at work. 

      One way to break the ice is to ensure that you can be trusted and state directly that you are open to discussing even if it is something that you generally do not like. Ensuring that you are open to listening to what others have to say, gives the sense of trustworthiness and makes them comfortable while opening up.

      In such scenarios, emotional intelligence plays an effective role while handling a larger and diverse range of people. Emotional intelligence signals that you have good intentions and the skills to act on them instead of just going by the one-sided story. 

      Also Read: How to Deal Negative People at Workplace?

      4. Conversational Layers

      When stuck in a challenging situation where you have to find a middle ground and handle a complex conversation, then consider dividing a whole conversation or that scenario into three layers. 

      • What exactly has happened?
      • What the both parties think or feel about each other and about the the situation?
      • How is it affecting individuals at work?

      By layering the conversation into above mentioned questions, it becomes clear what should be your next course of action. Indeed, difficult conversations evoke strong emotions. Sometimes people see this as an opportunity to vent out their past frustrations. It is important to acknowledge the perspective of each individual involved because it creates a safe space for the other person to share how they perceived the situation and its impact on them. 

      It is important to recognise that everyone has a self-image that they work hard to maintain, and that’s why people may become defensive during challenging situations. Finding a common ground becomes easier when everyone knows what’s at stake. This is the best method to tackle the situation.

      Handling difficult conversations while layering and then taking the conversation further gives better solutions that work for everyone in the room. 

      Also Read: How to Deal with Difficult Coworkers?

      Source: TEDxTalk


      You may enter the room with a goal to handle a difficult conversation among two or more people and have a clear picture of how it would end and you would be giving a closure to it. Yet it is important to discuss and plan how to move forward together and make things easier and transparent for each and everyone involved. By collaborating and showcasing good listening skills and clear communication, leaders often leave knowing how and what they did their best to reach a resolution. 


      Ques: What are the three proven strategies to handle challenging conversations?

      Ans: Three proven strategies are:
      1. Provide candid but honest feedback
      2. Transparent communication is the key
      3. Keep your tone humble and be a good listener 

      Ques: How to handle difficult conversations beautifully?

      Ans:  Proven ways to handle difficult conversations beautifully are:
      1. Listen carefully and listen to both sides
      2. Discuss things one on one
      3. Set expectations for yourself
      4. Be calm and respectful
      4. Look at the issue from their point of view

      Ques:  How to take control of a conversation?

      Ans: Understanding what a person is saying is the best way and the first step towards owning the entire conversation.

      Also Read:

      Overcoming Imposter Syndrome at WorkImportance of Listening Skills at the Workplace
      Importance of Listening Skills at WorkplaceWhat Does Workplace Ethics Mean?
      Emotional Intelligence at Workplace5 Tips for Strategic Thinking at Workplace

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