Overcoming the Top 5 excuses for avoiding difficult conversations

Avoidance is costly and leads to toxic workplaces. Time to take action!

According to Bravely, workplace resource startup, 70 percent of employees are avoiding difficult conversations with their boss, colleagues, and direct reports.


Their most recent survey backs up this statistic first brought to us by the book Crucial Conversations back in 2009. While a lot has changed in over a decade, avoiding difficult conversations hasn’t.

Difficult conversations, or as I call them, Crunchy Conversations are part of life and business. It’s no wonder that 70% of employees are avoiding difficult conversations when a recent SHRM survey found that 93% of managers lacked the skills necessary to coach their direct reports.

Avoiding conflict is a human response. However, as a leader, it’s your job to rise above the desire to avoid conflict and learn how to navigate these uncomfortable circumstances and the difficult conversations that come along with them. The success of your business, your career and your health are at stake, for all parties involved.

Here are the Top 5 excuses to avoid having a crunchy conversation and how to overcome them.

“I don’t have the time. / I’m too busy.”

The consequences of avoiding a difficult conversation are going to cost you a lot more time in the long run. The longer you wait to have the conversation, the less likely you will have a successful outcome. You will spend more time on the issue if you don’t address it up front.

New Mindset: I am saving time by addressing this now before it gets any worse.

Action Step: Determine when to have the conversation and start preparing for success.

“It’s on my list. / I’ve been meaning to.”

It’s time to get really honest with yourself. Procrastination is only making things worse including creating a power leak for yourself. Make the decision that you are going to address the situation and start preparing to have the conversation. Need help preparing? Check out my handy Crunchy Conversations Toolkit. It will lead you through provoking questions to help you prepare and have a successful conversation.

New Mindset: I am ready and willing to address this difficult conversation now.

Action Step: Schedule the meeting. Get it on both your calendars.

“Don’t know how.”

Fair enough. Most of us never learned how to effectively navigate difficult conversations. However, don’t let that stop you. Get yourself resourced so that you can move forward. If you need some help preparing or even some hand holding during the conversation, reach out to me to see how I can help.

New Mindset: I am investing in myself and my team to learn how to effectively navigate difficult conversations that produce results.

Action Step: Book a session with a coach or mentor that can help you have a successful conversation.

“Tried it, didn’t work.”

This is the ultimate excuse! News flash, crunchy conversations are hardly ever a “one and done” situation. They take effort, intention and persistence. Don’t opt out simply because it’s difficult. Learn and uplevel your skills. Practice leads to greatness.

New Mindset: I am committed to being an effective communicator, no matter how many tries it takes.

Action Step: Determine what didn’t work, what to do differently and book a time on both your calendars to give it another go. If you don’t know what to do differently, get some professional guidance before going back into the conversation.

“I don’t want to hurt their feelings or make them feel bad.”

Bless you for being sensitive to the other person! And, holding back for fear of hurting someone’s feeling is actually robbing them of the opportunity to level up really step into their greatness. If you are really concerned about their well being, you’ll suck it up and say the hard thing so that you can give them an opportunity to become their greatest self.

New Mindset: Even though I might have a difficult message to deliver, I will convey the message with compassion and heart so that the receiver knows I truly care about them and their career.

Action Step: Communicate your intention throughout the meeting--to help support their professional growth. Let your presence reinforce your verbal communication.

In order for businesses to truly thrive, we need to go beyond the surface, “drive by” conversations. Leaders need to start having deeper, more engaged conversations that address the heart of the matter.

More importantly, leaders need to learn the crucial skill of learning how to receive employees who have the courage to bring up difficult matters and to take action to correct the issues at hand.

Download your free Crunchy Conversations Toolkit, and build the confidence you need to have necessary, yet difficult conversations. If your team needs to hone this skill, set up a time with me here to learn how to make effective communication a priority.

In service to your greatness,


PS... If this makes you take a sigh of relief, how about getting tips and tools sent directly to your inbox! I promise not to share your info with anyone.

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