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a blog by Chris Barrow

Dealing with difficult conversations

I’m always keeping my eyes and ears open for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from within my own client base and community.

One of the regulars is along the lines of:

“I’m unhappy with another individual’s performance and/or behaviour and I need to talk to them about it – but I don’t want it to get emotionally charged and descend into a slanging match – so where do I start?”

It’s very difficult to have a good conversation when there’s an angry bear in the room.

The attached PDF can act as a guide in that process and is available for you to download free of charge at the end of this post.

  1. ask the other party for PERMISSION to have a direct conversation;

  2. explain your PERCEPTION of the situation (you may have your facts wrong);

  3. describe how the situation is affecting your FEELINGS (making it about what’s happening to you and not what’s wrong with the other person);

  4. identify in clear terms the CHANGE you would like to see.

I’ve used a version of this for 20 years (and surprised myself that I’ve only just created this PDF).

It works most (but not all) of the time and can be used in both personal and professional situations.

If, however, in spite of this the bear gets angry, follow the first rule of martial arts – walk away.

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