How to have difficult conversations in your workplace

In the majority of workplace settings at HR and You Ltd we find that bosses/Managers avoid difficult conversations, in many cases, they do this because they lack confidence, training, and ultimately, they feel that by not having the conversation the issue will go away; occasionally, this can happen, sadly though and in many instances, the issue escalates and just becomes even more problematic to deal with.


We want to share with you some tips that you can use, or share with your team, these will help you handle difficult conversations in your workplace and bring about a satisfactory resolution.

We take a look at how to deal with difficult conversations and dealing with mediation between party/s.


How to deal with the situation


  1. Have the conversation as soon as you become aware of it – don’t put it off until later

In many situations we put off dealing with difficult, or complex situations, especially in the workplace when dealing with people, and or party/s, doing so it can make the issue escalate and cause you a real headache, in the long run, putting off conversations take more time to plan, and then you can become more overwhelmed.


  1. It is imperative you have the conversation in person, this may seem difficult, but it is always best

It can sometimes seem the easiest way to make a call or even send an email to try to deal with issues, this rarely brings about a satisfactory resolution, whilst it happens in many situations it really does not work, having a meaningful conversation in person allows both parties to ‘off-load’, express their own opinions, understand each other’s viewpoint/s and also to gain clarity where there may have been a miscommunication.


  1. It is crucial that you prepare ahead for the conversation

We always advise that ahead of any meeting you plan, in this instance it is important that you do this, you need to consider that the issue may be sensitive, and tempers may become heated, by planning ahead you can alleviate this; you should consider:


  • What is the issue you are dealing with?
  • What is the intention of the conversation?
  • How will you approach the issue with the other party/s?
  • What is the desired outcome, have you considered this for the other party/s?
  • Your notes and questions should be fully prepared ahead of the meeting


  1. The intention of the meeting is to listen first, rather than be heard first

It is important that you build your rapport, this applies when acting as a mediator too, you should always be prepared to listen first, by doing so you will then have the opportunity of this being reciprocated. You should take notes during the meeting, these do not just form part of the process, but they assist you to reflect back on the key points during the meeting, they can help you to sum up and drive out action points for the other party/s at the end of the meeting.


  1. During the meeting, you should use effective clarifying communication

We cannot stress enough how effective clarifying points can be as a communication tool, it has several purposes; for example, it builds the connection between the party/s, it lets the other party/s know that you have heard, listened, and taken on board what they have said,

You are mirroring their words, that way they can correct anything that may have been misunderstood.

You may want to pre-warn at the beginning of the meeting that you will use this method, as it can feel strange at first when using the method, it does work though.


  1. You should always sum up at the end of the meeting

So long as you have followed the points above you should be able to bring about a satisfactory resolution, as discussed earlier during the meeting you will have listened to both party/s, taken notes, and these will assist you to reflect back on the key points during the meeting, they can now help you to sum up and drive out action points for the other party/s at the end of the meeting.


  1. What if a resolution cannot be reached

Should this be the case and assuming you have followed the action points above we would advise you to contact us at HR and You Ltd, we can work with you either providing supplementary advice and guidance or should you wish we can act on your behalf to bring about a resolution by acting as a mediator.




How can we help you further?

We are here to provide full advice, support, and guidance. We can advise in any HR or Employment Law matter: you can contact a member of our team on 0333 006 9489 or [email protected]






This article contains a general overview of information only. It does not constitute, and should not be relied upon, as legal advice. You should consult a suitably qualified lawyer on any specific legal problem or matter.

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This document is intended to serve as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. This document should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a HR and You Ltd Consultant or a member of our legal team.

In no circumstances will HR and You Ltd, or any company within HR and You Ltd be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information contained within this document or for any consequential, special or similar damages, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.





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