Do you get blank stares when you ask coworkers why their performance is slipping?

Are you met with only silence when discussing a mistake during a team meeting?

Woman saying she is going to keep her mouth shut and not engage.

Getting someone to share their viewpoint in a difficult conversation is a skill that you can use in both your personal and work life.

It's important for resolving conflict and building strong relationships, and can lead to more innovative solutions.

1. Create A Safe Environment

Sharing ideas and opinions takes courage. People need to feel safe and trust those around them before they speak up.

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To create a safe environment:

  • Establish some ground rules (e.g., all opinions are welcome, no interrupting, listen without judgment)

  • Tell people ahead of time that you'll be asking for their opinion

  • Break up into smaller groups ormeet one-on-one

  • Offer multiple ways of sharing (e.g., online survey, suggestion box, group session)

  • For individual discussions, meet in an informal and neutral setting (e.g., restaurant or coffee shop)


Sam needs to meet with her project team to get their perspective on why the project is behind schedule. What should she do?

2. Turn It Into A Dialogue

Instead of presenting your point of view and asking for opinions, start a conversation.

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To get the conversation started:

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Share stories or experiences with each other before asking for opinions.

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Resist the urge to have all the answers. Encourage others to speak up during pauses in the conversation.

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Ask open-ended questions that show you're listening, engaged, and interested in their viewpoint (e.g., "That's interesting, why do you feel that way?")

Make It Worthwhile

People need to know they're being heard and that their opinions will be taken seriously. When they see that you care, they'll share more.

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  • Actively listen

  • Provide positive feedback

  • Thank them for sharing

  • Invite them to offer solutions

  • Discuss what you'll do with their feedback

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  • Make them feel wrong

  • Negate their input (e.g., Avoid saying "Yes, but...")

  • Ask accusatory questions (e.g., "Why would you think that?")

  • Surprise them or force a response

Take Action

Making an effort to get other points of view shows that you care and helps to resolve challenging situations.

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The next time you're faced with a difficult conversationat work and want others to share their perspective:


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