Navigate difficult situations and build your confidence when communicating in the workplace.

Written by Jaslyn Pal and Jack Nodding.


Great leaders are great at communicating. They know how to navigate their way through difficult situations, tough conversations and challenging co-workers.

That said, communicating confidently doesn’t come naturally for everyone.

For some, even the thought of having to speak to management or a fellow colleague can bring a sense of dread and doubt.

Sound like you? If it does, then perhaps it’s time to start building your self-confidence and learning how to ask for what you deserve.

We’ve put together 6 tips to make you better equipped to tackle testing situations.

communicating confidently in the workplace

1. Don’t Discourage Yourself

It’s not easy to speak up when you’re faced with a challenging situation.

Although we’re encouraged to report conflict and uncomfortable circumstances in the workplace, sometimes this is easier said than done.

Not everyone feels comfortable informing their superiors of serious or unsettling incidents.

At first thought of having to speak up, the nerves set in, sending your mind into overdrive.

Your internal dialogue begins to flood with self-doubt as knots start to form in your stomach:


“Am I overreacting?”

“What if my manager thinks I’m making a scene?”

“How am I supposed to deal with this?”


It might seem like the easy or only way out is to run and hide.

However, not addressing the situation is only going to make it more difficult to face.

No matter how intimidating it may seem, your superiors are there to help you, so don’t be afraid to approach them!

If you find yourself discouraged or lacking confidence, take a few deep breaths to stop your mind from shouting out with self-doubt.

Feeling anxious and getting worked up about it will only magnify your dread.

Even if you can’t muster the courage to approach your superior immediately, find someone who you can talk to.

A close friend or family member can provide a neutral second opinion and help you build a communication strategy for addressing the matter appropriately.


Remember, when we’re faced with difficult situations (in or out of the workplace), our mental dialogue can be our own worst enemy.

Refrain from giving in to your doubtful inner-chatter and build courage with a clear head.


2. Take A Leap Of Faith

Just like a skydiver before jumping out of the plane, sometimes the best way to approach a situation is to just say, “Let’s do this!”

Once you’ve thought about your position and devised a strategy to best communicate the problem, take a leap of faith.

Tackle the situation head on and be proactive about finding a resolution.

Sure, things never pan out quite the way we expect them to, but this will only armour you with greater confidence the next time round.


communicating confidently in the workplace


3. It’s Not You

If you are communicating directly to a colleague, it’s important to frame your argument in a way that is respectful.

This will allow your voice to be heard and ensure the situation reaches a resolution.

In other words, the way your message is framed influences the way it is interpreted.

For example:


What Not to Say: “You’re a noisy eater, do you have to be so annoying?”

Instead, Try Something Along the Lines of: “I’d really appreciate it if you could be more mindful while eating at your desk. It can distract me from completing tasks on time.”


Finally, be sure you make it clear you appreciate their understanding and taking the time to listen.

A little goes a long way!



4. Stay Calm

So what happens if the conversation goes pear-shaped?

Perhaps they aren’t listening to you or are quick to jump on the defence without considering what you’re saying.


When this happens, the best thing you can do is maintain your cool and keep your mind clear.

Having a clear and well-understood communication strategy is key to keeping your cool in these kinds of situations.

Not doing so can spur an escalation of dialogue that can make things go backwards.

Keep things in check and stay in the moment.


communicating confidently in the workplace


5. Listen

With that in mind, it’s just as important to remember that there are two sides to every story.

Having a solid strategy for communicating is great in approach, but flexibility works much better in practice.

Be willing to listen and go into the conversation willing to compromise.

It’s important that both sides are heard, respected and understood in order for a resolution to be realised.



6. Communicating with Cues

Finally, always remember the way you communicate with someone is just as important as what you’re trying to say.

It might sound small and insignificant, but standing with your arms crossed and not making eye contact can come across as disinterested and impolite.

Make it clear to your manager or colleague that you care about what they have to say through visual cues and body language.



So, the next time you need to confront an issue with someone else in the workplace, keep these tips in mind.

The best way to build your confidence with communication is to practice, so make sure you refer back to these tips the next time you feel out of depth in the workplace.


Alternatively, you can learn even more skills to help you step up as an executive leader and take charge of your career at the 5th Women in Retail & FMCG Leadership Summit.

Leadership coach Greg Sellar will be there to share his expertise and help you build on the tips provided here.

You’ll learn to connect confidently with others and minimise your nervousness in high-pressured situations.