How to Have Hard Conversations at Work (and Beyond)

Practical strategies for before, during and after to make difficult conversations a bit easier.

Sally Clarke
7 min readApr 16, 2024
How you navigate difficult and challenging conversations is a key skill at work and beyond.

How you navigate difficult and challenging conversations is a key skill. And not just for leaders — for everyone.

By building your confidence to have hard conversations at work, you foster an environment of transparency, openness and candor. This underpins trust, respect and psychological safety in the workplace.

So, how can leaders go about building the skills you need to be able to handle hard conversations with aplomb? Let’s explore the ins and outs of hard conversations.

What are hard conversations?

Hard conversations are those that cause stress, uncertainty or discomfort for one or both participants.

You may start to feel the uncertainty, discomfort or stress in advance of the conversation, like a sense of dread or a stone in your belly. At other times, the discomfort can arrive unexpectedly during the conversation.

Hard conversations (n.): interpersonal exchanges that cause stress, uncertainty or discomfort for one or both participants.

--

--

Sally Clarke

Wellbeing & burnout author, expert, writer & speaker. Global adventurer. she/her www.salcla.com