Using Confrontation and Difficult Conversations to Steer Your Workplace Culture Ship

Using Confrontation and Difficult Conversations - People Development Network
Using Confrontation and Difficult Conversations - People Development Network

How are you with confrontation and difficult conversations?

Are you such a people pleaser that you avoid the difficult conversations? While they can be tough, conversations and communication is what provides course corrections for your ship.

What we tolerate we accept.

Think about that for a minute. Life goes along its happy way with you tolerating this. You think “Well, that’s really not so bad…I can live with that.”  Pretty soon your “that’s really not so bad” tolerations have built up like a pile of dirty laundry from a family of 12 who have 10 kids under the age of 10. You get the idea – it’s like a huge heaping never ending pile of what the heck happened here? But that’s how tolerations go. When you are a manager or leader, you have to nip these tolerations in the butt.

I know, I know…you are thinking, “But it really isn’t that bad.”

Hang with me for a quick visualization. Let’s say you are managing your team. All is moving along just fine. You have one team member who makes critical jokes. You write it off in your mind as “She’s just joking.” After a while, you start to see another team member start to get kind of snarky with others in the office. Now you start to wonder if you should have said something to Ms. Jokester. After all, how can you address Ms. Snarky if you haven’t said anything to Ms. Jokester?

 You decide to tolerate.

After a while someone quits. It’s for a better opportunity they tell you. No biggie, you will hire a replacement. But then, into the first week, the replacement person quits. “It’s not what I thought it was” they tell you. Before you know it, turnover is high and you can’t attract any talent. Your workplace culture has become one of backbiting, condescending, nastiness. You are starting to  realize your mistake. You should have said something in the beginning.

But here’s the great news- your shining light – your navigational beacon…

“It’s never too late to become what you might have been.” – George Eliot

The same is true for your business.

Yeah, you might need to steer your ship in a new direction or totally turn it around, but it is doable. You just need to address the situation at hand by getting to the root of the problem. Nothing more, nothing less.

Take Ownership of the Problem

But here’s the deal, you have to take ownership of the problem yourself.

Start the conversation with

“I may have let you think that some behaviors were acceptable.”

The reason this statement is so powerful is because you are owning your part of the problem. You aren’t placing blame. Plus you are addressing the behavior, not the person. There are some really good people in the world who have momentarily exhibited bad behaviors. Your job as a leader, whether you’re a mom, a boss, a manager or a CEO is to show your team the way – to be their navigational beacon. This includes showing, telling and demonstrating what is and is not acceptable as a behavior. This ongoing communication is what steers your ship.

So the next time you are a dreading a confrontation or a difficult conversation, visualize how much worse it can get if you don’t address the problem and how much harder it will be to get to where you are going if you have been headed in the wrong direction.  

Image Credit: Pixabay


Kathy Bourque

Kathy Bourque

Leadership Development at Kathy Bourque
Kathy Bourque is a Leadership Development Expert for women in business who crave operating from a place of clarity and confidence. Through her down-to-earth mentorship programs, workshops and keynote speeches, she’s here to show you how to create a workplace of open connectedness where the fires put themselves out. Her emphasis on mindset and mindfulness is revolutionary in the business world. Transform your leadership style and declare how you want to show up at
Kathy Bourque


#Leadership Storyteller - Connecting the dots to engage and develop #leaders. Speaker, trainer. Semi-poor golfer, craft-beer freak & travel junkie.
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Kathy Bourque
Kathy Bourque