Difficult Conversations

Types of Difficult Conversations

Bad News

  • Passing away of a close relative
  • Having to return home
  • Lack of Funds


  • Inappropriate behaviour in team
  • Poor performance/ Lack of Progress
  • Difference in perspective/ misalignment

Seek Healthy Collaboration/Problem Solving

How to Get Started

  • Consult with your HR Person
  • Preprocess with your Supervisor
  • Don’t Take Things to Personally
  • Debrief with HR and/or your Supervisor

Starting Phrases

  • Bad news: “I have to tell you something that I know will be hard…”
  • Challenging behaviour: “I have observed… and want to talk about that…”
  • Challenging perspective: “I’ve heard you say a few times… I would like to learn more about that as I struggle with…”

Issue Presentation

  • Bad news: clearly state the issue/decision/accident etc.
  • Challenging behaviour: clearly describe in an objective way what was observed. 
  • Challenging perspective: draw out the perspective and provide an alternative perspective.

Listen Well and Reflect Back

  • “I’d like to get your perspective on this…”
  • “I hear you say that…”
  • “I’m sensing that you feel bit upset about this…”

Wrapping up in a Supportive Way

  • Bad news: spend most of the time on emotional and practical support.
  • Behavioral challenge: move to what can you do and how I can I support you in that
  • Perspectives challenge: avoid debating, get a commitment to further think about it. Make an appointment to get back to it.


  • Affirm the relationship
  • Pray



Training Documents

SIL References