Tips for Navigating Difficult Conversations at Work 

Whether it is a difference of opinions or just general office drama, it seems as if conflict can be found all around us these days. How best to navigate these turbulent times? In his article, Defusing an Emotionally Charged Conversation with a Colleague, Ron Friedman offers a few “PEARLS” of wisdom:

  • Partnership: Express your interest in working together to forge a more productive outcome.
  • Empathy: By truly listening to the other person’s perspective, parties can reframe the conversation to focus on understanding alternative views.
  • Acknowledgement: Strong feelings tend to be a byproduct of deeply held convictions or ties to certain processes, policies, practices, or results. Sincerely acknowledging the good the other party brings to the matter, whatever it may be, is an important investment in (re)building the relationship.
  • Respect: An environment of mutual respect is a foundation of any effort to navigate through difficult times with a coworker. While affording the other person respect doesn’t guarantee agreement or immediate resolution, it does serve to level the playing field, so to speak, so collaboration, creativity, and connection can develop and strengthen.
  • Legitimation: Another skill of great listeners is the ability to reflect back the other party’s position and interest in terms of the meaning, perceptions, and emotion of their message. Taking time to ensure you have understood the message from all of these angles demonstrates a renewed level of commitment to the overall relationship.
  • Support: Ensuring that the “Now What?” question gets answered is key. Talking an issue out is important and coming to resolution is, too. What steps will each take to ensure next steps are taken and both parties are accountable to the outcome?

Thinking about that next difficult conversation, keeping these PEARLS in mind can certainly help. Looking for more assistance? Speak with one of our Organizational Development and Learning Consultants about our conflict resolution solutions.