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Make Time to Prepare for Critical Conversations

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
― George Bernard Shaw

So often, when delivering important information to a colleague, the effective transfer of knowledge is prevented by the way the information is communicated. When this happens, the content of the message is lost, and we find ourselves engaging in conversations with minimal impact – which is a frustrating reality. What is the point of sharing information when we don’t know how to effectively communicate it? How can we make our conversations matter?

Whether providing constructive feedback or clarifying expectations, conducting crucial and important conversations can be a challenging task for any manager or employee, but these conversations should not be avoided. Instead, consider making use of these tips to ensure you are well prepared for the conversations that matter.

Here are some questions you could ask yourself:

  1. What is your purpose?
    What is your purpose for having the conversation? Reflect on what your objective is and any outcomes that you need to achieve from the conversation. If you are not clear about your purpose, you may not achieve the outcomes sought. Consider what you can do to be prepared.
  2. Have you made any assumptions about your colleague’s behaviour?
    What assumptions are you making about this person’s intentions? Our assumptions about other’s behaviour may be incorrect.
  3. What might be going on for the employee?
    Be open-minded and consider a range of options; the person may not be aware of their behaviour. Avoid jumping to conclusions; instead, think about some key questions and be willing to explore and listen to their perspective.
  4. How might your attitude towards the situation impact on the conversation?
    How is your attitude towards the conversation influencing your perception of it? If you think this is going to be horribly difficult, it probably will be. If you truly believe that whatever happens, some good will come of it, that will likely be the case.

Once you have considered these questions, it can be useful to follow a process to ensure that you are communicating information effectively. The process will ensure you stick to an agenda, give the other person opportunities to voice their perspective and concerns, and you focus on working towards a mutually beneficial solution.

A process for communicating information effectively

Utilising this process will allow managers and employees to effectively communicate critical pieces of information with the intended impact, so that the ‘illusion’ becomes a reality.

If you require assistance in developing effective communication skills in your organisation, please contact TMS Consulting on


As a business and economics professional, Margie is passionate about working with organisations to achieve organisational success through the implementation of organisational strategy and capability across the disciplines of leadership, culture, team development, and health, safety and wellbeing objectives. Margie specialises in tailored program design and planning for clients to ensure the program initiatives are effective and impactful. Margie is also skilled at quantifying cultural change after the implementation of TMS programs to determine improvement and provide recommendations that will enable organisations to sustain their benefits in the long term. Margie's experience in business analytics supports organisations to optimise its strategy, processes or systems through qualitative and quantitative data analysis in the areas of workforce planning and strategy, change management, process design and functional analysis. She has in-depth knowledge for Sustainable Business strategies and looks to support clients in implementing business models to drive change and how to integrate values into strategy without sacrificing profit.