How to Handle Difficult Conversations on Zoom

Since the start of the pandemic, Zoom calls or video conferences have become a part of work-life because people are working from home. Almost every activity needed for a business to operate can be done in Zoom while keeping everyone safe.

However, video conversations have setbacks, especially if the topic that will be discussed is complex, such as lay-offs or assessments. Not only will the discussions feel impersonal, but your conversation can also be heard by other people in the house or where the employee is working.

Since remote work is now a part of work-life, video conversations in Zoom are unavoidable regardless of the message. If you need to talk about a difficult topic or have a deep conversation with a colleague, here are 5 tips that can make it easier to handle:

Prepare Before Your Conversation

Before any conversation or discussion, it is essential that you have everything ready such as the materials that will be used in the discussions and other paperwork that the team will need to see. If you find it hard to speak in front of the camera, take some time to practice with your camera off a few minutes before the call or have a mock discussion with a colleague a day before the Zoom call.

Do Not Delay The Call

If you request a Zoom call regarding a sensitive topic, ensure you don’t delay it. Schedule it as early as possible to reduce tension or anxiety in the talks and ensure everyone will focus on the discussions.

When you have the Zoom meeting schedule, stay on time and focus on the agenda so everything will be resolved in the call.

Think Of The Call As An In-Person Meeting

Speaking to someone via Zoom call is not different from talking to them in person in the office; the only difference is that you are not in the same place. During the discussions, ensure your objectives are clear and allow the other person. Doing so will ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of the topic.

Have A Witness

If you are going to deliver bad news of any type or interview a prospective employee, it is best to get a witness from your team leader or trusted colleague. During the discussion, let the other person know that there is someone who will be joining the call so they won’t reject or question the setup. Having another person in the Zoom call also fosters transparency.

Be Aware Of The Person Behind The Screen

One of the setbacks of Zoom calls and other digital means to communicate is that we can’t make a deep connection with the people we talk to even if we see them on the screen. Regardless of the discussion, it is essential to remember that you are talking to a real person. During your Zoom call, it is best to stay empathetic and professional, especially if you are delivering bad news.

In Other Words

Difficult conversations are unavoidable at work and stressful for both parties, whether online or in the office. If you find yourself needing to have a difficult discussion through Zoom, you can make it easier for everyone if you prepare in advance and practice if you can. Once you get the hang of it, it will be easier to get through any Zoom call you will have in the future, including difficult conversations.

Not used to having Zoom meetings? Here are some articles to help you:
What to Wear for a Zoom Interview
Best Video Conferencing Tools besides Skype and Zoom
Why Are Video Conferences So Exhausting and What You Can Do About it

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. These are some very good tips. I need to work on not delaying calls😩

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Good for you! You need to work on the reasons why you procrastinate on calls.


  2. You mentioned some things I had not considered.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Thank you so much.


  3. newwhitebear says:

    Each technology has a positive and a negative side. Zoom or similar programs do not escape this rule. Working from home is not the same as working in the office. However, it is a great advantage when working conditions do not allow you to go to the office.
    The indications you suggest seem to me to be dictated by common sense and useful for operating without major problems.


  4. equipsblog says:

    I like the recommendation to have a witness on the Zoom meeting and announcing from the start that that person is present.


  5. I want to add two tips. Tip 1: Record the conversation, especially if the topic is sensitive. This recording can be a witness. Tip 2: Be aware of where your camera is. When having a difficult conversation, it doesn’t look good if you’re looking at the other party *on your screen* and you’re looking down to do so… which means you’re avoiding the camera. To the other party, your eyes are downward and there isn’t much eye contact.


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