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How a Communication Course Helps You Navigate Challenging Conversations

By: CJ McGillivray

Published On: April 16, 2021


Challenging conversations happen regularly in our daily lives and workplaces. Maybe you are trying to ask your boss for a promotion or need to communicate a boundary to a colleague. How you handle tough conversations says a lot about your disposition and overall success in the workplace. But not everyone is going to feel naturally comfortable or equipped to have discussions. It is perfectly normal to feel anxious or uncertain about them.

Feeling prepared and having the tools you need to communicate your request or boundary will make a big difference in the long run. Here is a breakdown of why communication issues arise and how you can better navigate challenging conversations with the help of a communication skills course. 

A man sits on stairs staring at his phone after a challenging conversation

Understanding Disagreements 

Why do people disagree? What makes for a challenging workplace conversation? Differences of opinion are common in any home or work environment. Even in cases where people do agree with one another, they may have completely different communication styles which can sometimes lead to misunderstanding. Everyone has different quirks, habits and thought processes around how to express their expectations or concerns. Words mean different things to different people. Even deadlines have different meanings to some people!

Does your manager apply deadlines to the final draft or simply the first draft? In order to thrive in your workplace, you will need clarity around deadlines, expectations and varying communication styles. As with any aspect of the workplace, there are things that you can control and other things which are out of your control. How you communicate your own expectations, boundaries, understanding and preferences is something that you can work on and get better at. How you understand and clarify expectations will also help you succeed when it comes to job placement, performance and even career advancement. 

Verbal and Written Communication 

This may sound obvious, but there are two main styles of communication that we all engage with on a daily basis. On one hand, verbal communication encompasses phone calls, zoom calls and conversations in the office. On the other hand, written communication includes everything that you say to your colleagues via email or team messaging apps. It also covers internal and external communications such as blogs, business reports or plans, proposals and presentations.

Challenging conversations can come up in either of these mediums. It helps to know where you feel most comfortable so that you can put your best foot forward. If you feel uncomfortable having to come up with things to say on the spot, try writing them out in an email instead. If you get frustrated by words and have a hard time conveying how you feel, maybe try a conversation in person, over the phone or over a video conferencing platform. Keep in mind that whether the other person can see your facial expressions or body language, as they can say a lot without saying any words at all. 

One of the major challenges with written communication is ensuring the clarity and accuracy of your message. Are your thoughts making it clearly onto the page? Are you trying to say something different than what you have written? With the help of a communication course, you can improve your writing and increase the chances of positive reception from your coworkers, supervisor or clients. 

The Importance of Tone

What you say matters, but how you say it matters more. Capturing the right tone is particularly challenging in written communication. When or not you are on the same page as your colleague, you can always do your best to convey a friendly and professional tone. Being amicable and approachable when you write or speak can help improve your working relationships and get more people on board with your ideas or requests. If the tone is something that you struggle with, a business communication course can help you understand the importance of word choice, phrasing and approach. 


The information contained in this post is considered to be true and accurate as of the date of publication. However, the accuracy of this information may be impacted by changes in circumstances that occur after the time of publication. Ashton College assumes no liability for any error or omissions in the information contained in this post or any other post in our blog.



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