Learning how to have difficult conversations with colleagues

As healthcare professionals, we face numerous challenges in our day-to-day work. But have you ever stopped to think about how these challenges affect relationships with our colleagues?

It’s a growing concern that many of us are becoming so consumed with our own problems that we fail to consider the implications of our actions on those around us. Tensions amongst teams and difficult conversations with colleagues can quickly escalate, leading to strained relationships and decreased teamwork.

That’s why it’s crucial for us to learn to be more kind to one another. And there’s a simple phrase that can help us do just that – “Step on to the other person’s planet.” Imagine for a moment that you’re facing a difficult conversation with a colleague. Instead of approaching it solely from your own perspective, take a moment to step onto their planet.

  • What challenges are they facing?
  • What pressures are they dealing with?
  • What could be causing their behaviour?

By making a genuine effort to understand their perspective, you create a space for empathy and compassion. It’s a powerful tool that can transform difficult conversations into opportunities for growth and understanding.

So, let’s make it a priority to step on to the other person’s planet. Let’s be kinder, more understanding, and more supportive of our colleagues. Together, we can create a healthier and more harmonious working environment for everyone.

Take a moment to read a case story of someone who attended one of our advanced communication skills courses.  It took a whole lot of courage to have a difficult conversation with a colleague and some time was spent preparing them for this conversation.

Case story:

In this narrative, we gain insight into the experience of a senior manager, who faced the task of preparing for a difficult conversation with a colleague at work.

Managing a conversation with a colleague is stressful, particularly when things aren’t going well. Fortunately, learning the tools (communication skills and strategy) to approach a challenging situations with, has no doubt helped me! these tools have given me confidence and provided a structured approach for such discussions.

  • Preparation is key, plan what you need to say and keep it clear and simple.
  • Prepare your colleague for the conversation you need to have with them, to help them prepare for the meeting too.
  • It is crucial to maintain emotional control while remaining open, supportive and empathetic.
  • By the end of the meeting, we had negotiated a plan together, to help us move forward.

I came out of the meeting feeling that I had really achieved something. We now have regular meetings lined up.

I’m direct but open with my interactions and continue to impress on them that I am very much here to support her and we both need to meet the needs of our service. I always take time to think about what I want and how to deliver it and I apply this not to most of my meetings/discussions that I find myself in from a managerial perspective.

I remain convinced that is because of what your course equipped me with and continue to be incredibly grateful to you for your help.

Proud moment for me

Upon reading this experience, I will admit to shedding a little tear. It makes me take stock and realise that what we are doing is making a positive difference to people.

If you are facing an obstacle or challenge, please consider reaching out for our help and support. Don’t suffer in silence. Take a look at our video Confronting a colleague – Healthcare Communication Matters.  You can see a strategy unfold, which supports the conversation.

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