Back to Back Issues Page
Are your critical conversations difficult?
October 07, 2014

Critical Conversations & Conflict

As you probably already know – I do corporate leadership development – and I find VERY discouraging how most organizations try to help their leaders with their “communication” skills.

You see – most of the organizations that I have worked with – think that they will help their leaders (VPs, Directors, Managers, Supervisors, etc.) by giving them tools to deal with both: with difficult conversations – and with conflict.

These tools are all good and well.

But what these organizations don’t realize is the fact that these “tools” don’t go to the heart of the matter.


Because these tools – and the executives who promote them – assume that difficult conversations are “difficult” – and they also assume that conflict is a necessary evil.

What is a “difficult conversation”?

A difficult conversation is telling the truth to somebody else who might not like it.

What is a “conflict”?

A conflict is when two or more people don’t agree on something.

Fact – you won’t build a high performance team if your people perceive telling the truth as being “difficult.”

Fact – you won’t build a high performance team if your people perceive conflict as being “bad.”

Fact – telling the truth is necessary because it is a required condition for optimal decision-making and execution effectiveness.

Fact – conflict is necessary because it is a required condition for creativity and innovation.

Fact – if you and/or your people perceive telling the truth as being difficult and conflict as being a problem – it is likely that your organization doesn’t have a 100 per cent open communication environment.


If your organization doesn’t have a 100 per cent open communication environment – don’t teach your people tools to deal with difficult conversations and conflict.

But rather – work with your direct reports to build a truly open communication environment.

And how do you build an open communication environment within the team you lead?

1) You must lead your direct reports with integrity – be one in thought, word, and action

2) You must be humble with them – listen to them and learn from them

3) You must be transparent with them – show them your faults, weaknesses and errors

4) You must build a multi-directional feedback culture within the team you lead

5) You must make sure that your own assessment about your own performance is the same as the assessment that the rest of the team members have about your performance – and this same condition must be true for every single member of the team you lead

6) You must make sure that all of your direct reports openly admit the truth about themselves, because they are positive that their peers’ intentions are good – and they don’t need to be cautious and safeguarding anything around the team

As a leader – fulfill and attain all of these six conditions – and you and your team will perceive difficult conversations and conflict, through a totally different lens: Those conversations won’t be that difficult – and conflict will be rather constructive.

That’s what an open communication environment looks like.


What question does this article prompt in your mind?

Is there anything that you don’t agree with?

If you come up with a question or disagreement as a result of reading this article – hit the “Reply” button and send it to me.

I will gladly address it in a future “Leader Newsletter” issue.

Remember – a dialogue between you and me is far richer for you than just a monologue from me.

Please click here to see the entire "Leader Newsletter" Archive.

Questions? Feedback? Reply to this Newsletter and tell me what you would like future issues to be about.

Feel free to re-send this "Leader Newsletter" to your colleagues.

Most recent 12 "Leader Newsletter" issues:

3 most important tools according to you
Yes – you can build a feedback culture
Most important tools inside your managerial toolkit
You must know the answer to this simple question
What organization do you want to build and lead?
A simple “hello” and the bottom line
Are these two assumptions costing you money?
Do you have a difficult employee?
Are you alert by choice - or stressed by default?
Do you want to get rid of stress?
Can’t you improve your team’s performance?
Misunderstandings cost you money

See you next month!
Joseluis Romero - Publisher
October 7, 2013. Copyright: All rights reserved
I publish "Leader Newsletter" on the first Tuesday of every month
Back to Back Issues Page