The Awkward Conversation: Creating Open Communication In The Workplace

Have you ever heard the phrase: ‘Eat the frog’?  All too often when it comes to addressing sensitive issues in the workplace, we may tend to procrastinate.  While that may be the natural tendency, its important to recognize that if we wait to have those conversations it may negatively shift the morale of the workplace.  Not only can it change the mood, but it can also begin to affect the productivity of your team.

To create a positive work environment, it starts with you and how you decide to handle those awkward conversations.  Let’s be real – nobody likes conflict in the workplace!

Do Your Homework

Ignoring the issue will not help you or anyone in the workplace.  If you allow an issue to go idle, you are potentially encouraging office hearsay to take place.  Before you address the problem, take the time to do your homework on the situation.  Be sure you have all the information in front of you before presenting the problem.  This will help you to stick to the facts.


Emotional Intelligence

Try to empathize with your employees and think from the perspective – if it’s awkward for you then it must be awkward for them too!  Your tone should be serious yet showing care and concern for the employee.  This will bring comfort to the situation.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Stay open-minded – try to be non-judgmental and stick to the facts.
  • Listen more than talking – use the opportunity to understand more about your employees.
  • Be professional – even if you may not agree with the person you are having the awkward conversation with, you should be professional always.
  • Offer Help – work towards a resolution and offer solutions to help with the problem.


Keeping a log of uncomfortable conversations will help you in the long run if it ever re-surfaces.  When an incident occurs, it is important to note the date, time, location, witnesses, and details.  Details such as specific conversations and/or inappropriate behaviors should all be documented.   General complaints will be more difficult to carry validity versus claims with clear documentation.


Eat the Frog

So, what does “Eat the frog?” really mean?   In the wise words of Mark Twain, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.  And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

Bottom line…don’t put off your awkward conversations in the workplace.  Once you tackle the situation head-on, it will make the rest of your day easier.   You will feel better and find a sense of accomplishment.