Accomplish More.
Juggle Less.
Everything you need to transform your work.

How To Have Courageous Conversations

When you work with other people, hard conversations are inevitable.

In this episode of One Next Step, I talk with BELAY’s Chief People Officer Krisha Buehler and Human Resources Manager Lori Friedman about the framework they use when having difficult conversations. We talk through specific approaches they would take in three different workplace scenarios. 

This conversation is full of information that listeners can start implementing in their own conversations right away.


Here are some takeaways we shared:


1. Build relationship capital.

Giving feedback is really a very selfless act because it’s hard and it’s uncomfortable and you don’t know how the person on the other end is going to react.

If you have a trusting relationship where you have your team’s best interest at heart, it makes tough conversations go much better.

A lot of people don’t know they are underperforming. So be transparent and sincere to help that conversation go well, then be sure to follow up in writing. This way nothing can be misinterpreted, you can provide clarity, and there is no room for confusion.

It’s really important to go into the conversation as an active listener. How many times are we listening but we’re already formulating our response to what they’re saying before they’re even finished saying what they’re saying?

You may go into a conversation with your outline and bullet points but unless you’re trying to hear what they are saying and listening to understand, the conversation could be easily derailed.

2. Listen before diving into solution mode.

Take a moment and put yourself in the shoes of the other person and really try to understand what their perspective is, what they’re going through, how they’re viewing this situation, and how it’s impacted them.

Ask good questions. If you jump in too early, you might be trying to solve a problem that isn’t there.

Do a fact-finding session first, and gather information. From there, you can clarify expectations.

Walk through what this looks like on each person’s end and compromise if needed.

3. Clarify that you're talking about a problem, not a person.

In a work scenario, it can start out feeling very interpersonal.

But you’ll usually find out it’s more about a problem, not the person. The feedback in that conversation goes much better when you identify the problem, and it doesn’t feel as emotional on their end.

It’s also helpful to know when to shut the conversation down because it’s unproductive.


This episode’s resource is our Courageous Conversations Cheat Sheet — some tips and tricks to help you have courageous conversations with your team and foster an environment of success and coaching in your organization.