Having Courageous Conversations At Work

Whenever we have a confrontation with another person, both in our private life and at work, often the best approach in diffusing the situation is by talking it out with the other person involved.

Tania Coke, Senior Mediation Consultant for Consensio and author of an article appearing on the Personnel Today website agrees that in the workplace, such conversations can go a long way to resolving differences with coworkers and others. At issue for some, however, is that getting to the place where such conversations are possible comes with potential challenges. Left ignored, tension between people can be left to fester and grow until the situation boils over. Coke offers some suggestions as to the different hurdles and how to overcome them when having courageous conversations.

  • Acknowledging the problem – Before conversations can take place, it’s important to ask what it is being felt and why. Has the situation created stress? Fear? As scary as it may seem, having a direct discussion is a good idea to take a moment to consider what would be gained or lost through such a talk with the other person.
  • Decide when and where the topic should be broached – Most often, the best way to have a discussion with the other person is a place and at a time that is neither embarrassing nor hostile. Coke advises the approach of making sure the other party knows that the discussion is so that the issue can be made better and the other individual. Be aware of the way in which you speak and act during the conversation. Are you helping to diffuse tension or adding to it?
  • Take the next steps afterward – Even if the conversation proved to be a difficult one or if everything was resolved satisfactorily, what happens after a sometimes difficult talk can further help to relieve tension. Being able to forgive not only the other person but yourself if the conversation didn’t totally ‘fix’ things, or communicating with the other person after the discussion thanking them for having the talk.

Tania Coke offers further suggestions in her Thought Leadership page on the Consensio website.