7 Essential Ingredients for Honest Conversations

Rachel Beohm
5 min readOct 31, 2023

They say, “Honesty is the best policy,” but all policies need an implementation plan. Here’s how to be honest in a way that promotes growth and relationships.

Obviously, there are actually only two truly essential ingredients for an honest conversation:

1) Have a conversation.

2) Be honest.

But being honest is a bit complicated, isn’t it? If your experience is anything like mine, simply telling the truth can be a daunting task, potentially fraught with misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and strong reactions. You want more than to simply be honest. You want your honest conversation to work. But “7 Essential Ingredients for Honest Conversations that Promote Positive Change Without Destroying Morale and Relationships” is way too long of a title. 😊

Over the past few years, job dissatisfaction among employees has hit all-time highs and employee disengagement ratios have nosedived to their lowest point in almost a decade. These trends, combined with a relatively competitive labor market, can lead to “quiet quitting,” high attrition rates, and low morale. It’s not pretty.

Faced with the threat of losing talent, many employers have taken a reactive stance by becoming overly accommodating, lowering expectations, and even turning a blind eye to performance issues. However, as you probably already know because you’re likely living some version of this yourself, reacting this way backfires. Consistently ignoring unmet expectations breeds resentment and a lack of clear communication creates uncertainty. Avoiding difficult conversations isn’t doing your team members any favors. Without direct feedback and accountability, you stunt growth, demoralize the individual, and eventually destroy your company culture. Also not pretty.

Honesty, though, builds trust. And that leads to a more positive work environment and increased engagement.

Unfortunately, while the need for candid communication has never been greater, our collective ability to navigate those interactions successfully has never been worse. You know what else declined dramatically in the past few years? Basic social and communication skills. Having a straightforward conversation is harder today than it used to be.

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Rachel Beohm

Exploring relationship skills, communication (especially nonverbal), and how to live a full life. Promoter of kindness, gratitude, and joy.