The Upside of Difficult Conversations

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BetterUp Studios

5 min


The unease surrounding difficult conversations in the workplace can be the product of many different fears — the fear of jeopardizing relationships, of “rocking the boat,” or of expressing how you truly feel. In a recent survey of professionals, 70 percent reported avoiding tense conversations.

Both leaders and team members often find that they are not properly trained on how to handle these situations. In these situations, fear ends up taking over and nothing gets done.

With proper preparation, however, these talks can become crucial tools for collective growth. Here are four reasons why:

1. Leadership Skills

Effective leaders understand that tough conversations help them key into individual and group alignment, so the team can then move forward together.

2. Stronger Bonds

A little discomfort pays off in the long run. The shared vulnerability and honesty required to have a difficult conversation can engender mutual understanding and respect.

3. Team Alignment

Difficult conversations put team members on the same page. Instead of focusing on frustrations surrounding what isn’t being said, meeting people in the middle allows everyone to complete the task at hand.

4. Business Bottom-Line

Silence comes with a cost. According to a recent study, for every difficult conversation avoided, employees waste an average of $1,500 on an eight-hour workday. The seemingly inconsequential action of avoiding a difficult conversations can often end up wasting a lot of time, resources, and money.

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