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Rizwan Ahmed CPA explains How to Manage Difficult Conversations at Work

Most people dread having difficult conversations at work. But, if you handle them the right way, they can actually be quite productive says Rizwan Ahmed CPA.

Here are ten steps to help you have productive conversations with your employees, colleagues or clients when things aren’t going well.

1. Use “I” statements

Focus on your personal experience, not what you believe or think about the other person. You’ll sound more like this: “When I saw the customer walk out of our store and go to XYZ Company, it really angered me.”

2. Be specific

It’s much easier for the other person to respond when they know exactly what you’re talking about.

For example, if a client doesn’t like a new product, instead of saying “The clients don’t like the product,” say something like, “The clients really don’t like that we’ve added peppermint oil as an ingredient in this product because they’re allergic to mint.” When you use specific examples and state your feelings about those examples, people understand where you’re coming from better.

3. Be honest and avoid excuses

Rizwan Ahmed CPA says admitting that you made a mistake or that you didn’t handle a situation appropriately, can go a long way toward gaining trust with your coworkers or clients? Instead of saying “I didn’t think the deadlines for this project were going to be so strict,” say something like, “In hindsight, I wish we’d been more transparent about the time commitment needed for this project.” Now, instead of wondering why something happened and getting frustrated by it, people will have a better understanding of the issue and be empowered to work together to find a solution.

4. Propose solutions

If you want an improved relationship with someone, you have to offer up some ideas on how to move forward collectively. This doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers, but proposing a few potential solutions shows that you’re invested in making things better.

5. Avoid using “you” statements

When you use “you” statements, it sounds like you’re attacking the other person. For example, “You always come in late,” or “You never do your share of the work.” It’s much easier to stay positive and constructive when you use “I” statements instead says Rizwan Ahmed CPA.

6. Listen more than you talk

When someone is talking to you, it’s important to actually listen to what they’re saying. This means not only paying attention to the words that are coming out of their mouth, but also understanding the emotion behind them. Responding with a simple “I see” or “I understand” can show the other person that you’re taking their feelings seriously.

7. Don’t judge

No one likes to feel like they’re being judged, especially in a difficult conversation. Avoid making assumptions or leaping to conclusions about what the other person is saying. Instead, try to see things from their perspective.

8. Stay calm

It’s natural to get emotional during a difficult conversation, but it’s important to try and stay calm so you can focus on what the other person is saying and how they’re feeling. Let them know that it’s okay for them to feel upset, but don’t add to their discomfort by adding your own emotions into the mix suggests Rizwan Ahmed CPA.

9. Be aware of your body language

It’s hard to stay positive when someone has a negative attitude or seems frustrated during a conversation. Try to mirror their behavior and match their body language as much as possible. For example, if they seem nervous or uncomfortable, sit back in your chair with your hands clasped behind your head and speak slowly. This will help put the other person at ease, which in turn make them more open to listening and considering solutions.

10. Don’t hang around waiting for a response

It’s important to remember that you’re not the only person in the conversation. If the other person needs time to process what you’ve said, or to formulate a response, let them have it. Hanging around waiting for a reaction can be very frustrating and counterproductive. Instead, thank them for listening and say that you’ll be happy to discuss things further at another time.


When having difficult conversations, always try to remember these ten tips! They’ll help make the conversation more positive and productive for everyone involved.

Having difficult conversations at work can be scary, but they can also be productive if you handle them the right way explains Rizwan Ahmed CPA. Use these ten steps to help you communicate effectively with your employees, colleagues or clients when there’s tension or conflict. You’ll be surprised at how much these simple techniques can help reduce your stress and improve your working relationships.

Writing a difficult conversation is basically just saying what you need to say, but without using ‘you’ statements that are accusatory or judgmental. This one takes time! We all love to point out the faults of other people because it takes the attention off our own flaws and it makes us feel superior. So, to write a difficult conversation, you have to stay away from your personal feelings and be objective.

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