Carol Bowser: how to have conversations with difficult people

Unlocking Understanding: The Power of Asking ‘Tell Me What You Know’

Employee Relations
Written by Carol Bowser

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you needed to have conversations with people because you couldn’t understand what was going on with them? Maybe they’ve been avoiding you, or perhaps they’re working on something that you can’t comprehend. It could even be that they’re having emotional reactions that you struggle to understand.

Well, I have a question that can serve as a guide for these conversations and help you uncover the root of the issue or problem that both of you can address together. Especially if you suspect there may be misinformation or gaps in information, this question can be quite powerful.

Here it is: “Tell me what you know up to this point.” Pay attention to their assumptions, their frames of reference, and the trusted sources they cite. So give it a try.

Initiate the conversation and ask them to share what they know up to this point. Once they start speaking, close your mouth and listen attentively. See what unfolds as they provide their perspective.