Leadership - Having THAT Conversation

author/source: Dianne Durkin / The Loyalty Factor

When leaders have to deal with difficult conversations within the workplace, do you have the right tools prepared? Do you not take action and hope things will resolve themselves, or will your inaction resolve the situation in an even worse or unpredictable way?


ConversationDealing with difficult conversations requires four steps:

  1. Understand Emotions: take time to comprehend what emotions you are feeling and why. This prepares the brain space to accept what the other individual is feeling and why.
  2. Move Past Negativity: when you can leave behind assumptions or quick judgement, you leave yourself open to listening vs. telling.
  3. Prepare Your Message: this message should be brief (less than 2 minutes) and judgement free.
  4. Set Aside Time: make one-on-one time with this individual to focus on the matter at hand.


As you enter into the conversation, remember:

  • This is a private conversation. It can be done over the phone, videoconference, or (preferably) in person. Do not use email. It can be misinterpreted, others can be copied in, and it can make the matter worse.
  • Do not start with small talk. Get to the matter at hand, with empathy and no judgement. Keep the conversation open.
  • Focus on what the individual is saying. Use their key words and phrases in dialogue. If there are parts you don't understand, keep listening. Reflect on their comments and emotions.

CubeSummarize your meeting. Go over what you discussed, what they discussed, and attainable steps to the goal and resolution. Ask them for action steps, and develop a plan together. Conclude the meeting with clarity.

For advice on how to handle a difficult situation, do not hesitate to reach out to Loyalty Factor! We have developed proven processes and procedures that engage and empower people vs. putting people on the defensive.


Dianne Durkin Bio:

Dianne-DurkinDianne Durkin has over 25 years of experience in finance, sales, international marketing, and training & development. She has held Vice President of Marketing and Presidential positions with companies like Gulf Oil, Digital Equipment Corp, Corporate Branding Partnership and ASTEA International. Dianne’s combination of executive management and entrepreneurial skills has proven very beneficial in helping major corporations and small enterprises achieve maximum results.

A graduate of Rivier College, Ms. Durkin holds a Master’s Degree in Mathematics from Duquesne University.

As author of two books, she has been featured in The NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Fortune, USA Today, Investor’s Business Daily, The Boston Globe, and numerous other publications. She was also the subject of a cover story in Learning and Training Magazine, and has appeared on NPR and Bloomberg Television and Radio. Her writing has appeared in Master Salesmanship, Potentials, New Hampshire Business Review, and other business publications.