Handling Difficult Conversations: have you got an elephant in the room?
28 Jun

Handling Difficult Conversations: have you got an elephant in the room?

rtt difficult conversations

Difficult conversations can be extremely daunting and all too often we choose to avoid them or dilute the message that we really want to give.


According to the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) 66% of people feel stressed knowing that there is a difficult conversation on the horizon, which would indicate that many of us have too many elephants roaming loose in our lives…so what can we do remove them? In fact, avoidance tactics are being used in abundance!


difficult conversations stats

At work, difficult conversations are often linked to poor performance, behaviours or managing personality clashes. In our personal lives it can be anything from someone leaving the lid off the toothpaste to the more serious dynamics of a relationship. Usually, these conversations need to be had on a one-to-one basis and no matter how serious the issue, they can really test our communication skills.


A lot of the reasons for avoidance often stem from a lack of confidence. It’s so normal for us to predict and expect a negative outcome and therefore we’re setting ourselves up to fail before we even begin. However it doesn’t have to be like that, if you are unhappy or upset about a situation or behaviour then why would you allow the pain to continue by putting up with it? We’re not suggesting that you start to go around shouting and being demanding with everyone that you’re unhappy with, in fact quite the opposite.


Here are five simple steps that can help you to have a meaningful and healthy discussion:

1. Don’t put it off

Stop thinking “it’s not worth it’ or ‘I’ll wait to see what happens’. Be brave, take a deep breath and start to take back control of the situation. The first step is to give you and them time to cool off and then plan a good time to meet, allowing plenty of time for reflection and consideration of each others points.

2. Prepare

Take some time to think about what you want to raise and how you’re going to articulate it. Don’t try to ‘plan’ the conversation as they rarely go the way you think they will, however preparing will help you to be confident in want you want to address and be really clear and confident in what you want to address.

3. Listen

A bad habit that many of us have is to focus on what WE want to say next rather than actually listening to what is being said to us. By hearing and acknowledging the other persons point of view you are actually showing how much you care.

4. Be respectful

Use direct and non-emotive language that focuses on the facts and describes a situation without being emotional. Natural language, facts and specific examples will stop this becoming a personal attack and help to focus on resolving the issue.

5. Expect a positive outcome

If you think it’s going to be disaster then it probably will be. Try thinking less about it being ‘difficult’ and more about having an open and honest conversation. The topic may be a little tricky or sensitive but by focusing on positive alternatives and solution’s means you’re more likely to get an outcome that is beneficial for everyone.

Watch our short Facebook Live video below for more help on having difficult conversations and join our free Facebook group to be a part of future Lives on a range of personal and professional development topics!




Good luck going forth and having your conversations! Find out more about our employee training and development and interpersonal skills workshops or get in touch for further support!

Making the Leap from Teammate to Manager
28 Apr

Making the Leap from Teammate to Manager

Making the transition from one of the team to manager of the team can be fraught with pitfalls, but not if you go in with your eyes open.

There is a wealth of information and advice out there for new managers (some of it on our own site!), although it can be harder to find solid guidance for those making the transition into an internal management role.  Whilst there is much crossover, Google returns just 1% of the amount of search results for transitioning managers compared to a search for new managers.  Organisations that provide good support do so in the form of structured development, mentoring and progress reviews, but all too often managers making ‘the leap’ are left to fend for themselves.

First off, understand that the people who were previously your peers will see you differently and they will be waiting for you to make your first move, so consider it carefully.  Don’t make any rash decisions or changes and instead sit down with each of the team individually.  Talk openly about the change that has happened, ask them how the news sits with them and explain that you’re going to need their help to get the team to wherever they need to get to.  Discuss and agree expectations of each other; what do they need from you and vice versa.  Get to know their strengths and consider how these could be leveraged (if they’re not already).

It’s just as important for you to have a natural relationship with the team although you must keep it professional.  Whereas before it might have been fine to get up to all sorts of hijinks on a Friday night, now you need to consider the impact on a Monday morning!  Not having a clear professional divide with the team just muddies the waters when the time comes – and it will come – to making tough decisions or giving difficult feedback.  Have fun with the team and don’t underestimate the value of spending time together outside of work, but always keep in mind that you are their manager and leader.  It’s now down to you to be the role model, otherwise you can expect them to use your inappropriate behaviour as a defence when you come to address theirs.

Try and get a couple of quick wins under your belt to show that you are on the same side and fighting their corner.  As a previous teammate you have a unique insight into what the wants and needs of the team are; what winds them up, frustrates them, drives them crazy?  It might be something as simple as introducing ‘Hump-Day Doughnuts’ on a Wednesday or as complex as making a commitment to change a convoluted process or procedure that ties the team up in knots.

Make sure that as a team, you have a common goal and purpose.  What is your raison d’être; your reason for existing and spending more time together than you each probably do with friends and family?  Get the team involved in identifying this so that you create something you can all commit towards.  Once you know where you’re going as a team, take pit stops to review progress and provide enough development for you and the team to help your vision become a reality.

What are your tips for those transitioning into a management role?  Let us know in the comments below!

At Right Trax Training we can help your new and transitioning managers get to grips with their role. Get in touch to find out how.

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