Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more

Ali’s solution


Ali was nervous about a challenging conversation she had to have at work and it didn’t go to plan. What does Jennifer think Ali should do?

In the audio exercises below, Jennifer coaches Ali through her issue to help her find the best solution. They talk through a role play of the meeting with the company manager, and discuss ways to approach these conversations in the future.

Montage of people in the workplace.

Part 1: The situation

In the first part, Jennifer and Ali role play Ali’s challenging situation.

Select the Play button to listen to each clip.

The situation This clip is 3:33 minutes.

Part 2: A mindfulness practice

To begin focusing on appropriate solutions to Ali’s situation, Jennifer guides Ali through a mindfulness practice to help her focus on her intentions and goals.

A mindfulness practice This clip is 2:07 minutes.

Part 3: Revisiting the situation

Jennifer and Ali perform the role play situation again, this time applying a four-step approach to the conversation.

Revisiting the situation This clip is 2:13 minutes.

Part 4: Jennifer’s advice

Jennifer concludes the coaching session by summarising what they did and offering guidance for the future.

Jennifer’s advice This clip is 3:35 minutes.

Accessible versions of these in-line clips are available in the Downloads section.

Jennifer’s top tips for challenging conversations

Step 1: Prior to a difficult conversation, remember to do a brief calming exercise. This will help to root you and therefore allow you to enter a meeting with an open and non-judgmental mind.

Step 2: Determine no more than three intentions for your meeting. What do you want your manager or colleague to think, feel and do?

Step 3: Once you’re in your meeting, do the following:

  • Stay connected to your breath – this is your anchor which you can always come back to.
  • Try to engage with eye contact.
  • Be mindful of your body language, and open the chest with your shoulders dropped back and down. In your head, say “release” and breathe in to any portions of the body in which you are carrying tension.
  • Finally, show up as yourself 100% and know that contrast and challenge is actually the greatest opportunity for growth. Enjoy the fact that difficult conversations give room for beneficial change.

Jennifer’s four-step approach to challenging conversations

  1. State what happened.
  2. Say how it made you feel.
  3. Explain how it impacts your work.
  4. Make a recommendation on how to improve the situation.
This article is from the free online

Communication and Interpersonal Skills at Work

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education