Difficult discussions at work


Even in the best workplaces there may be times when issues arise. Often they will be minor and can be worked out easily.

But sometimes the situation will be more complex. When a problem arises, decide whether speaking to your manager is the best approach.

Although it can be hard, it’s important to try to deal with workplace issues straight away. Otherwise they can get worse.

You may not feel able to speak with your manager. Whether due of the seriousness of the issue or because you feel your manager is part of the problem. For example, if you have been the subject of discrimination. In this case, you could speak to a more senior manager, a Human Resources officer or the Fair Work Ombudsman.

How to approach a difficult conversation

  • Be prepared. Have all the facts and relevant information with you.
  • Plan what you want to say and what you want to get out of the conversation. This will give you a better chance of resolving the issue.
  • Be open and flexible to the options. This way you and your employer should be able to find the solution that best suits everyone involved.
  • Remember, your employer may not know they have done anything wrong, so try to remain calm during any discussions.
  • Know where you can go for further support or advice.

Need more information?

For steps and tips for having a difficult conversation, watch the Unfair treatment at work video from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

These tools and resources can help you: