7 Steps to Have Difficult Conversations - Boostalab

During a feedback session, did you ever get the impression that the person in front of you was turning to stone? Or did you ever feel like you provoked an emotional avalanche? Feedback can be a great mobilizing tool… when used properly. Do you need to have a difficult conversation with a colleague or an employee – regarding their attitude or their behaviour – and hope not to demobilize them? This tool will help you plan the meeting (crucial step!), get the other person involved in the situation (which makes a world of difference!) and follow-up efficiently to make sure the situation is well on the way to be corrected.

Keep in mind that what’s difficult here is the situation, not the person: there’s always a solution to any problematic situation. Before the conversation, get clear on your intention: will you enter the discussion from a place of blame, or from a place of kindness? Let’s hope it’s the latter!


  • As soon as possible, following the observations which required this conversation to be necessary. The quicker you act, the greater the impact.


  • Use the tool to prepare the meeting.
  • Share observations and facts.
  • Have the other person identify the impacts.
  • Explore what triggered the situation.
  • Find solution avenues.
  • Clarify expectations.
  • Offer support.
  • Agree on next steps.


  • Don’t use the sandwich method: if your feedback is wrapped in compliments, your message risks being missed entirely.
  • You have positive feedback to share? Use the first three steps outlined in the tool to make your recognition more impactful: the person on the receiving end will be motivated to repeat the behaviour you’re reinforcing.
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