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We asked close to 1,100 people about their feelings feelings toward and tactics for handling difficult conversations at work. You can view the survey data here and download a copy for your own use. Keep reading for some takeaways from our study and be sure to check our our full analysis featured on Harvard Business Review.

Most people plan on being considerate and agreeable during a difficult conversation.

  • 81%  of respondents are likely to acknowledge there are multiple ways to view the situation, while only 6% are unlikely to do so.
  • Nearly two-thirds of respondents (65%) reported they are likely to go out of their way to make the other person feel comfortable during a difficult conversation.
  • More than three-quarters (78%) are likely to be direct and concise.
  • Nearly two-thirds (65%) are likely to concede they played a role in creating the situation. Only 10% of people are unlikely to concede they played a role in creating the challenging situation.

Negotiating a raise is uncomfortable for most, but more so for females than for males. However, females are more likely to be satisfied with the outcome of a raise negotiation.

  • 58% of respondents feel uncomfortable negotiating a raise, while less than a quarter (23%) feel comfortable doing so.
  • 67% of females were very uncomfortable or uncomfortable negotiating a raise, while 52% of male respondents shared that sentiment.
  • On the flip side, 26% of males felt very comfortable or comfortable negotiating a raise (compared to 19% of females).
  • For those whose most recent conversation was negotiating a raise, 36% of females felt dissatisfied with the outcome while 50% males felt dissatisfied. 48% of females were satisfied with the outcome, and 35% of males were satisfied.

Most people will prepare before a difficult conversation, but they are less likely to prepare the other party about the conversation.

  • The majority of people are likely to prepare for the conversation (85%), and only 6% are unlikely to prepare.
  • Nearly a third (29%) are unlikely to warn the other party about the conversation, while 42% are likely to give warning.

Employees are significantly more likely to feel satisfied with the outcome of a difficult conversation with a direct report than with a supervisor.

  • 76% felt satisfied with outcome of a difficult conversation with a direct report, while only 18% felt dissatisfied.
  • 46% felt satisfied with the outcome of a difficult conversation with a supervisor, while 39% felt dissatisfied.

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