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Tips for Difficult Conversations Within the Workplace


Difficult conversations are a part of life, and they are something that should not be avoided; they should be embraced. As a father of three daughters, a husband, and a business owner, difficult conversations must occur, and they usually occur more often than I would like. However, these conversations are mandatory in maintaining healthy relationships within family, business, and partnerships. As my business has expanded, I have focused on creating a core value-driven atmosphere to maintain a quality culture.

I want to share tips on approaching these “dreaded” conversations that I have found that make the process easier for you and your employees.

Operator to Facilitator

As a business owner, office morale and employee relations are of utmost importance so that there is goodwill in the daily agenda. However, there will always be an employee(s) with a bad attitude towards tasks or to other employees within the office. You have a couple of choices in this instance: approach the employee about his/her/their behavior, allow continuation of behavior with no interruption, or to terminate the employee’s tenure.

Allowing the continuation of unprofessional behavior, low accountability, or just arising issues within the workplace could result in the damage of workplace culture and core values that you worked so hard to establish. Terminating the employee could result in the loss of an asset who just needed a transparent conversation to establish common ground. The best thing that you can do as a business owner is to converse with an employee about appropriate behavior and expectations within the workplace.

Before You Meet with Employee

  • Remember, the conversation is not a lecture; be humble, kind, understanding, and open with employees.

  • Control anger or frustration; typically, I like to pray and meditate before having a conversation of magnitude with an employee to ensure that I am in the correct mindset to accomplish my goal of effective dialogue.

  • Avoid small talk; talking with an employee is more effective when there is a main topic of conversation with shared focus.

The Process

Once you meet with an employee, you want to:

  • State the problem in a clear and concise manner,

  • Explain your reasoning of why you believe it to be a problem,

  • Listen to the other person and make them know they are heard, and

  • Address questions pertaining to the problem and identify solutions

Remember: You cannot create the end result before the conversation. The discussion itself will provide the means to a beneficial result.

Using these tips will benefit your business greatly to increase workplace morale and help assure that you, the business owner, are moving in the proper direction, and that the employees are benefitting from your commitment to healthy workplace relations.

For more business advice and tips I have used in my own experience as a business owner, entrepreneur, and C.E.O., subscribe to The Daily Ledger Podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.