Nailing difficult conversations (part 1 of 3)

14th March 2023

Asking someone for a pay-rise, a promotion or a sale.

Or having to say “no” to someone else, who’s asking you for a pay-rise, a promotion or a sale.

Or arguments with your family or friends. Having to make colleagues redundant. Discussing awkward topics with your boss…

… All of us have difficult conversations.

And these things are never easy, are they? Which makes sense, I suppose. After all, they’re … well, difficult.

So this is the first of three tips, explaining how to prepare for – and deliver – difficult conversations. In ways that help both you and the other person(s) get the best possible outcome.

The good news: to give yourself the best chance of success, there are only two things to master:

  1. What you say – the words that come out of your mouth
  2. How you say it – how you deliver these words – your intonation, authenticity, respect for the other person, etc

Or, put more simply:


I love this. It’s only two things. And, as long as you do both, you’re boosting your chances of a successful outcome.

But of course, people rarely do either. They just wing it. So it doesn’t go well. Or they procrastinate, so don’t get round to doing it. Or, by the time they do get round to it, it’s become such a big issue that it’s more painful for everyone.

Next week, I’ll give more guidance on both steps. But here’s a quick example, to show you how to master this…

One of my customers told me she hated discussing price – which was often £50,000+ – a scary figure for her to say. So she avoided saying it. And this was costing her sales.

I told her about SCRIPT and PRACTICE. So this is what we did:

  1. SCRIPT – this was easy – the script is simply “the price is £50,000”!
  2. PRACTICE – she then had to practise saying this sentence out loud at least 20-30 times, until it felt natural to her. This built her skills and confidence to say it…

…which meant she said it really well!

The outcome: her customer accepted the fee. She got the sale. The customer got all the benefits of her service. Happy endings all round.

But if she hadn’t done this seemingly obvious SCRIPT and PRACTICE, she’d have failed.

All of which means: the best, simplest, quickest, nicest thing you can do with difficult conversations:


We’ll explore both in the next couple of weeks. But, for now…

Action Point

… what conversation today will you find difficult?

SCRIPT and PRACTICE (20-30 times out loud?) how you’ll say it.

The more successfully you do this, the more successful you’ll be.

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