Reverse mentoring and difficult conversations

Difficult conversations and reverse mentoring

As humans, we instinctively avoid experiences that may be uncomfortable, or scary, or cause us embarrassment or to be made to look stupid. So, even if the “right” and sensible thing to do would be to have a conversation about something, the conversation in our head that takes place beforehand usually gives us reasons why that would not be a good thing to do..

Which is a shame. Because many of the elephant in the room issues that blow up to be much bigger issues, could be addressed by a conversation.

This article on difficult conversations provides some great examples of difficult topics, and how they were overcome. In particular, I loved the example of the gender ambiguous person in the team. Rather than shy away from the topic, the leader broached it and asked for reverse mentoring from the person.

When we put ourselves out there, and show some vulnerability and some humanity – and a willingness to learn and be open, great things can happen. 

The opposite of this, when we remain fearful and scared of what “might” happen, means we limit how much we can grow and learn. But we also allow a lot of things to remain unsaid. Things that may contribute to unease, to confusion, to a lack of trust.

So, a conversation that is difficult may indeed be just that.. But by acknowledging that up front, and asking for grace around the conversation being a bit awkward or messy; you might be amazed by the insights that come.


We usually know if there’s a difficult topic that we’ve been avoiding. Our brains do a great job of protecting us from situations that may put us in danger, and give us all sorts of reasons why not having the conversation is a much better idea.. You may even be thinking of a couple of examples in your own life.

The key is really to dig deeper. What are you really worried about? Is it how the other person will react? Is it that you don’t know what to say or how to say it, and you’re worried it might be clumsy?

By acknowledging this and being open with the other person, and asking for some grace around clumsiness, you may well find it is not nearly as awkward as you think it’s going to be.

And it is definitely one of those things. The more often you do it, the easier it becomes.


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See you tomorrow (yes a month of posting daily!)

Tammy Tansley
I am a coffee loving, energetic human who loves words, bright colours and spots, silly t'shirts and good champagne. Mum to two beautiful mischiefs. Long time wanderer around the world. Author. Blogger. Speaker.

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