Joanne Love

My Blog

Having Difficult Conversations - The New Leadership Imperative

 Pat has taught me about living with integrity. About always giving 100 percent. But most importantly about how to fight in every facet of life.


Handling difficult conversations, takes skill, confidence and practice.


I remember being berated by my daughter’s school teacher because I had the gumption to teach my daughter a different long division method, one that she could understand.  Maths has never been her strong point, and when she was in primary school she struggled horribly with the mysteries of long division. It was both frustrating and upsetting to watch my child struggle with the teachers’ method. So, what would a good parent do? I taught her the old-fashioned method I had used all my life. She quickly picked it up, and now has no issues with long-division. But it was the conversation with the teacher that left me shocked, and slapping myself for not handling it better.


His rudeness and abruptness left me running to my car, with my tail between my legs shocked at his reaction. I recall sitting in my car, thinking how badly I had handled the conversation, and my lack of appropriate response. We all know that everyone learns differently, and that he should have thanked me for doing his work and teaching her a method that she understood. It wasn’t that part that upset me most but my reaction….running away. I was escaping as a defence mechanism to protect myself from his barrage of words, telling me that I had done the wrong thing.


Difficult conversations are part and parcel of every workforce. They are the conversations that are usually emotionally charged, and where we need to deal with often delicate information appropriately to address complaints or grievances, address poor staff performance or conduct, or maybe deal with workplace personality clashes.


Unfortunately, below are the typical responses to the handling of these conversations in most organisations today.


IGNORANTchoosing to ignore issues in the hope they will go away.

UNDECISIVE - wait until they are forced into action when the weight of the issues gets too much.

REACTIVE - inappropriate or aggressive communication in response to issues


We all know that to be successful in business we need to be quick and responsive. We must be able to return emails and phone calls promptly, and tackle those difficult conversations head-on.


Did you know it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience1?


Today’s leaders must be able to speak and influence. We live in a world that is can quick to respond and give feedback on the services that we interact with daily. Unsatisfied, we often feel aggrieved and are quick to respond negatively, letting the whole world know as well. Research has shown that positive feedback leads to an increase in the earning performance of an organisation, whilst negative feedback reduces performance. However, when it comes to leadership, many are still at a lost to understand the best way to handle the complaints and deal with workplace conversations to ensure better performance outcomes.


In fact, knowing how to handle difficult conversations could be the new leadership imperative.  If you want to keep your clients happy, help your staff to perform better, then learning how to handle difficult conversations may be your winning action.  


1 “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell




Is your direction engaging?

Can you handle those horrible conversations?

Do you know how to best engage those you work with?


If you answered NO to any of these questions, then Joanne's latest Workshop is perfect for you!


Teaming up with John Pastorelli, Joanne will explore these questions, whilst giving you the opportunity to network to create change and inspire success. Don't miss out on this innovative, exciting, networking event for all leaders in the customer service industry. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.for more information.


Engineering Success Jo Workshop


 Joanne Love is known internationally for delivering thinking that is "out of the box." As an elite swimming coach, Joanne has experienced first hand what it's like to be one of the few females in a male dominated environment. Joanne has represented Australia at the highest level, including inclusion on the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Teams. These experiences led Joanne into obtaining a degree in psychology and now works with differing sporting organisations to maximise performance at all levels.


To enquire about Joanne speaking at your next event, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



My new book, Herformance, is out now. Buy your copy here.






3D Herformance Cover