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Why Some Conversations are Difficult

Conversations can be difficult for many reasons, including:

The Topic of the conversation:

  • a highly-emotional topic
  • a sensitive topic
  • a very personal topic
  • a topic related to poor behaviours (when you’ve done wrong to someone else or have been wronged by them) 
  • a very serious topic

The Task that must be discussed (an undesirable or unpleasant task)

The Person with whom one is speaking with (speaking to a superior, authority or with someone that you don’t usually get along with)

The Type of conversation (if it is related to resolving a conflict then it can be difficult)

The Direction of the conversation (a one-sided conversation where you aren’t given a chance to reply)

The most difficult conversations of all combine 2 or more of these features.


Dr. Evan Hoffman is a Sr. Associate at the Canadian International Institute of Applied Negotiation (CIIAN). Over the last ten years, he’s conducted conflict resolution workshops and trainings with hundreds of community leaders, university students, police officers, and government officials from around the world.

Note: this is cross-posted from LinkedIn


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