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It is a common human tendency to stay away from conflicts. Many individuals prefer evading acts and interactions that may pave the way to a confrontation with others. This thought process manifests in professional life as well. People in various types of jobs do their best to avoid engaging in difficult conversation at work. They often look for alternatives to having a confrontation including the use of diplomacy and indirect tactics. However, it becomes necessary to engage in conversations with colleagues on topics you feel uncomfortable with.


Why do people evade a difficult conversation at work?

People try to avoid engaging in tough conversations at the workplace for various reasons.

  • Some individuals are introverted in nature and they find engaging in conversations on difficult topics tedious.
  • Specific situations may make it hard for some individuals to engage in a difficult conversation at work. For example, you may want to avoid talking about a project or task causing you hassles with the team leader or manager as you think he/she may feel offended. You may also find it hard to talk about uncomfortable topics soon after joining an organization. 
  • Sometimes, personal opinions or assumptions may hold you back from talking about a tough issue with a colleague or senior official. For example, if you are annoyed with the behavior of a colleague but feel he/she is closer to the management, talking on the subject may seem impractical and tedious. 
  • Some individuals may refrain from a difficult conversation at work as they want to maintain an empathetic, pleasant professional image in the organization. 
  • Some people are prone to getting stressed when speaking on tough subjects at the workplace and so they evade a difficult conversation. They struggle to find the right words and fluency takes a backseat. Practicing business English conversations with skilled coaches on PracUp can help salvage this issue.


Why engaging in a difficult conversation at work can be a prudent idea?

Sometimes, you may resort to diplomacy to resolve a problem at the workplace and try finding an alternate solution to confrontation. However, in some situations, engaging in a difficult conversation at work is the best way to resolve a problem. 


  • By evading a conversation on a topic you are uncomfortable with at the workplace, you only pave the way for the problem to grow. The issue may not be visible unless you speak up, at times. 
  • Sometimes, talking about a difficult subject with a colleague or management-level employee may help both parties find a feasible solution.
  • If you do not speak or interact on tough subjects at the workplace, stress, and anger will build up within your mind. At one point, there will be an outburst and the escalation may blow things out of proportion. The stress build-up may affect your professional performance adversely, too.
  • Speaking on a difficult topic at the workplace aptly may work in your favor in the workplace, sometimes. If the management feels the outcome will benefit the organization, they will appreciate your move. This reflects leadership traits like integrity and honesty, too.


Tips to handle a difficult conversation at work in the best way

While engaging in a difficult conversation can prove to be beneficial for you, you must do it aptly. Unless you are careful about it, the outcome may not be favorable. Listed below are some handy tips to engage in a difficult conversation at the workplace while not going over the top.


  • Preparing for it

 If you think having a conversation on a tough or unpleasant topic with a co-worker or someone in the company management is the best option, prepare for it well. Do not just confront the concerned person without any preparation! Make sure you know all your points before engaging in the conversation. You may also write a draft and read it several times if memorizing the points in a sequence seems tough. 

  • Choosing the apt time

The time for engaging in a difficult conversation with a colleague is essential. You should ideally pick a mutually convenient time. It is prudent not to choose a time before an important workplace event such as a meeting or presentation. Do not pick a day for having such a conversation on which you have other tasks lined up. It is better if you ask the other person about a timing ideal for him/her.

  • Choosing the right place 

The place for having a difficult conversation is also important. It should not be a place frequented by other employees, ideally. The place should not be noisy, too. You may think of choosing a room or a place like a terrace if serenity is there. A pleasant and noiseless atmosphere will help ease the difficulty, to an extent. 

  • Informing properly

 Before you engage in a conversation with a colleague on a tough subject, make sure he/she is updated about it in advance. Inform him/her using email or message and if necessary you can update using the phone, too. Unless the other person knows the subject of the upcoming conversation, he/she cannot prepare well. That will reduce the scope of a productive outcome.

  • Using apt body language

Your body language must be just right when you engage in a difficult conversation at work. Your demeanor should be assertive but not aggressive. Do not appear casual but use apt gestures and interactions to exhibit your seriousness on the topic. 

  • Practicing well in advance 

The conversation that you plan to have with a colleague on tough topics should be practiced beforehand. You can practice with yourself using voice recorder apps, for sure. However, a better and more effective option would be practicing such conversations with seasoned speakers, on a dedicated platform. That is where PracUp can be useful. You will be able to improve your vocabulary and pitch, significantly by trying this platform.

  • Having an open mind 

You may have your views and beliefs on the subject under discussion. However, to make a difficult conversation at work productive, it is necessary to have an open mind. Listen to the view and ideas of the other person involved. It may so happen that both of you find an alternative and improvise on the view shared by the other. This will make it easier to find a solution to the issue.

  • Managing your emotions 

It is not uncommon for anyone to get annoyed or impatient when having a difficult conversation with a coworker. However, if you feel stressed or annoyed during such conversations, learn to calm and control your mind. Remind yourself that the objective is finding a solution and not winning a verbal battle or settling a personal vendetta. If you remain calm and composed during the conversation, the other person is unlikely to get hyper, as well. 

  • Having patience

To prove your point in a tough workplace conversation, do not grow impatient. Listening to the person patiently is important so that you understand his/her point of view clearly. When you talk, do not use a very fast pace either. Speak slowly and clearly so that the other person can grasp the idea well. Take a small pause before explaining a critical point. Stress the important points as you speak or reply to the person. To practice and improve on these intricate nuances of professional communication, try PracUp


What to do after having a difficult conversation at work?

It is necessary to show professional courtesy after having a difficult conversation at your workplace.  After the conversation is wrapped, thank the other person for his/her time. If you manage to conclude the topic, it is fine. Even if a resolution is not reached and further interaction is required, express your positivity about it. 



There is no way you can escape from having difficult conversations at the workplace eventually.  Evading interactions on tough professional topics will only escalate the issue and create other complications. To ensure such conversations lead to a productive outcome, prepare well and practice well before engaging in the actual session. Practicing professional conversations on myriads of topics on a platform like PracUp can be helpful in this regard. 


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