WEST Wisdom Blog

Growing Your Skills: Handling Challenging Conversations

Posted by Olivia Jeffers on Jun 23, 2017 6:59:54 PM
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Often conflicts arise, either at work or in our personal lives. At these times we have a choice to make between having a challenging conversation and remaining silent.

As leaders, learning when and how to have challenging conversations in a kind and effective way can resolve conflicts and encourage growth in the organization.

Should I have a challenging conversation?

The first step is to check in with your gut. Has something been happening repeatedly that is causing tension in the workplace? Do you notice yourself feeling tense or dreading talking to a certain person? Have you tried indirect methods of resolving the problem, but to no avail?

Have previous conversations left you feeling unresolved or misunderstood? Then it’s time to have a challenging conversation.

Preparing for the challenging conversation.

Start by having a challenging conversation with yourself first. What assumptions are you making? Are you seeing the picture clearly? What additional information do you need?

Figure out where you are on the Ladder of Inference, and then climb down to the bottom rung to challenge your assumptions before deciding on a course of action:

Top Rung: You’ve already decided on an Action

6th Rung: You’ve already formed a Belief

5th Rung: You’ve already formed a Conclusion

4th Rung: You already have some Assumptions

3rd Rung: You already have an Interpreted Reality

2nd Rung: You’ve already Selected a Reality

Bottom Rung: You’re faced with Reality and Facts


Join us for a workshop on June 27 lead by Sue Williams. You will build your skills and confidence in your abilities to be a successful communicator in emotional scenarios.

About Sue

Sue Williamson, co-founder of 3D Leadership Group, is an Executive Coach and Leadership Workshop Facilitator. Sue works with leaders at all levels in her coaching and workshop facilitation and particularly enjoys this topic as participants leave ready to immediately use what they have learned!  To learn more about Sue, see her bio.

 Click here to learn more about our  workshop on handling difficult conversations
The mission of Boston based WEST is to advance the careers of women working in the science and technology. Our members come from the biotech, high tech, pharma, engineering, and software industries to develop their leadership skills in a supportive network.
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Topics: Events, Leadership, Communication, Cambridge, Success, Women in STEM, Workshop

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