ted Learning Blog

ted Learning Blog

Is there such a thing as a Difficult Conversation?

  • March 1, 2012
We are often asked by our clients to deliver courses around how to have'difficult conversations.'  Our course has been called this since we founded the business 4 years ago (with many other companies doing the same) and I have often wondered 'what is difficult about having a conversation?'

Last week we were discussing our products for this year and myself and my business partner Clare Samuels wanted to simplify what our courses are called.   So we are moving to calling it simply: "Let's Talk" - surely great communication skills at all levels will remove the need for such a thing as a 'difficult conversation?"

 The use of the word 'Difficult' implies a problem to start with, so we are trying to overcome a problem and fear before we even start speaking?   If a business has created a culture where people just talk to each other, have great communication skills at all levels, highlight things that are done well (all of the time!) and also aways give feedback (well structured mind you) when things don't go so well, we will remove the need for anything difficult.  People who join the business will be inducted into a culture where talking is embraced ?  Many companies having being 'open' and 'honest' as values (honest can be taken for "I can say what ever I want!") but in order to really create cultures that are open and honest and respectful, if we are good at talking in a business environment we will really move things forward.

We believe it's about : 

  • Being a good listener first and foremost.  How can you be an effective communicator and good at talking if you are not listening?
  • Considering others emotions and being 'Emotionally Intelligent'  Having a great understanding on how others might be feeling, showing empathy and understanding and really thinking about what we are going to say
  • Planning the 'Talk' - sometimes we need to really consider what we are going to say and why we are saying it.
  • Providing encouragement - making sure we always give positive feedback and are honest when things haven't gone quite according to plan.  
Justin Smith-Essex

About the Author:
Justin Smith-Essex

Justin is the Group Managing Director & one of the co-founders of Ted Learning. He is a very experienced trainer, facilitator and qualified teacher, having completed his PGCE Teaching Degree at the University of Greenwich. He specialises in designing and delivering training in customer service, equality and diversity, management fundamentals, team building & presentation skills.