A tool for having difficult conversations

Abi Travers
2 min readJul 3, 2020

Need to have a difficult conversation with someone? Sitting up all night worrying about what you are going to say? Written it down but keep going back and re-writing it?

I recently had to have a couple of difficult conversations and was feeling pretty distressed about it. Somebody gave me a tool which completely turned this around. Using it gave me such clarity and calmed my mind right down, so I thought I would share it:

Take an A3 piece of paper.

Create a mind map.

In the middle write ‘Discussion with insert name' in a bubble.

Then have the following headings coming off:

  • What I want out of the meeting
  • What I am going to do with the outcome
  • Why I need it
  • How this is going to help me
  • The worst outcome

It should look something like this:

Answer each question as the thought pops into your head. Don’t worry about answering one as a time. Get as many ideas that are in your head out there.

What I want out of the meeting is your agenda for the meeting — the questions your going to ask. The rest of the points are for yourself, to help you evaluate how the conversation went. If you are trying to use the conversation to make a decision then you can evaluate things against your worst outcome points.

Once it is all written down park it, put the mind map away and only come back to it when you have to have the conversation.

Hope this helps and good luck. I don’t think you are alone in feeling the strain on your relationships with colleagues now we have been working remotely for a few months.