How do you deal with a situation when something has gone wrong?

How do you approach the issue when you are required to have a difficult conversation with a team member or a client?

So, do you make notes on what you’re going to say beforehand, prepare yourself with a mini script?  Or are you confident enough to just go for it and deal with the situation and questions as they arise?

Big question – do you prefer to carry out these difficult conversations in person or over the telephone?  Sometimes due to long distances the telephone is the only option.

Most of us don’t like confrontation and will do anything to avoid it.  Sometimes it’s just too easy to let issues fester rather than nip them in the bud early doors.

After reading an article about this very subject in the FirstVoice magazine last year, here are some suggestions to consider.


Make sure the meeting or phone call is carried out privately, don’t carry out the conversation in the open.


With any scenario get to the point straight away.  Try not to make small talk, be direct.  Start the call with something like, “the reason I’ve called you today is due to a problem/issue….”


Give the person space and opportunity to respond.  The person may be having personal problems which are the root cause of the issue(s) being discussed.


Don’t get personal – keep to the facts.


Stay calm and be prepared for any response and eventuality.  Dealing with an upset or angry response can be challenging.  People in general don’t like to be criticised, so keep to the absolute facts and stay calm.  If the person does get upset, allow them to compose themselves and try to resolve the problem.

So, be brave and don’t put off that difficult conversation, it may not be as scary as you envisaged.