5 Tips for Tough Conversations

Conflict happens.

Whenever you have multiple people, working together for a common goal, there will be conflict. We all see the world a little differently, we all have different interests and we are all … well … human!

If you’re in charge of purchasing, you’re naturally going to have conflict with those in charge of the budget. If you’re a sound technician, you’re going to have some conflict with the musicians. I certainly don’t need any more examples, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Here are five tips to help in these moments of conflict:

Tips for Tough Conversations

99u recently posted an insightful post by Scott McDowell. He included five solid strategies from the book Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen.

1. Draw out possibility

Ease into people. Don’t be blunt. Try, “What would you say if…?” or, “Could it be that…?”

2. Share the impact

I like this one a lot. This is your golden moment to be and act human. Fight all urges to become a robot. If you feel uncomfortable, vocalize it! If you’re sad, say so! If you’re frustrated, air your feelings! “Communicate your anxiety.”

3. Use silence

This is another good tip. By becoming comfortable with silence, you’ll keep the conflict from building up quickly. Plus, it gives time for “the important stuff to hatch.”

4. Coax insight

Scott McDowell pulled some awesome quotes on this. Here’s what you say: “And what else?” “Do you have any further thoughts on this?” and finally, “Can you think of anything else?” Great stuff.

5. Extinguish blame

Before reading about this, I had never thought much about it, but it turns out “blame” is a reactionary feeling. It’s normal. It’s human nature. Just ask Adam.

From the 99u:

In Difficult Conversations, the authors encourage talking in terms of “joint contribution” rather than blame, even though that tactic can feel incomplete. Blame, they say, “is a stimulus to search further for hidden feelings. Once those feeling are expressed, the urge to blame recedes.”


These are great tips that remind us to take a deep breath, be calm, be honest and work together, not against.

What tips and insights would you like to add?

Conflict is never easy, any extra insight always helps!  

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Eric Dye
Eric is a professional blogger and human rights activist. He spends most of his time as Editor in Chief for ChurchMag and FindingJustice.org, while sipping espresso in Italy.

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