conversations Oct 13, 2023

How To Start Difficult Conversations

how to start difficult conversations

How to Start Difficult Conversations

Starting a difficult conversation can be daunting. It can be hard to know where to start and how to frame the conversation in a way that will lead to a constructive outcome. But having difficult conversations can be extremely important, so it`s critical to learn how to do it effectively. In this article, we`ll provide an overview of the steps involved in having a difficult conversation, as well as some tips for navigating the conversation and achieving the desired outcome.

Prepare for the Conversation

Before beginning a difficult conversation, it`s important to take the time to prepare. Preparation ensures that you have a clear idea of what you want to discuss and that you have thought through the conversation in advance. To prepare for a difficult conversation, consider the following:
  • Understand the issue: Take some time to understand the issue and any relevant background information that may be relevant to the conversation. This will help you to avoid any misunderstandings during the conversation and ensure that you`re addressing the issue in the right way.
  • Identify goals: Identify the goals you want to achieve from the conversation and the outcomes you`d like to see. Thinking ahead about the outcome will help guide the conversation and ensure that the conversation is productive.
  • Practice: Spend some time practicing what you want to say in the conversation. This will help ensure that you`re prepared and may also help to reduce anxiety.
  • Consider the other person`s perspective: Think about the other person`s point of view and any potential roadblocks they may introduce during the conversation. Being aware of potential roadblocks can help you to prepare to address them and help ensure that the conversation doesn`t veer off track.
  • Plan your approach: Choose an approach to the conversation — are you going to be direct or indirect? Are you going to be confrontational or collaborative? This will help to ensure that you don`t end up in a heated or unproductive exchange.

Begin the Conversation

Once you`ve done the preparation, it`s time to begin the conversation. Here are some tips for starting the conversation:
  • Start in a positive way: Begin the conversation on a positive note. Show respect for the other person`s perspective and seek to understand their point of view.
  • Be concise: Explain your point of view in a concise manner. This will help to ensure that the message is clear and that the conversation stays on track.
  • Listen actively: Engage in active listening. Show that you`re listening and understanding what the other person is saying. This will help to ensure that the conversation is productive.
  • Be flexible and open to discussion: Stay flexible and open to discussion. Don`t enter the conversation with a fixed outcome in mind. Be willing to listen and discuss different ideas and perspectives.

Navigate the Conversation

Once the conversation has begun, it`s important to navigate it effectively. Here are some tips for doing so:
  • Be direct and honest: Be direct and honest in the conversation. You don`t need to be confrontational, but it`s important to make sure that your point is communicated clearly.
  • Acknowledge feelings: Acknowledge and respect the other person`s feelings. Don`t try to downplay or ignore them, as this can prolong and complicate the conversation.
  • Ask open-ended questions: Ask open-ended questions to gain more insight into the other person`s perspective. Doing so will ensure that the conversation stays open-ended and that all perspectives are heard.
  • Focus on solutions: Focus on solutions. During the conversation, try to move towards finding potential solutions rather than dwelling on the issues.
  • Stay respectful: Throughout the conversation, remain respectful of the other person`s perspective. Don`t attack or belittle their opinion.


Having a difficult conversation can be daunting. But with some preparation and a mindful approach, it`s possible to have a constructive exchange. By following the steps outlined above, you`ll be able to prepare, begin, and navigate the conversation in a way that`ll result in a positive outcome.
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