How to challenge effectively. Five steps you can take…

Published: 2 April 2024

#CuriousMoments with Advita

As someone who boldly named my business CommsRebel, constructively challenging norms and the status quo is part of our work with organisations. However, being able to have challenging conversations is something that doesn’t sit comfortably with everyone. It can be a scary thing to do, especially when you feel you don’t have the authority or the influence.

But if you’re a specialist or you spot an obvious issue, challenging ideas or actions encourages individuals to think critically about their beliefs, assumptions, and actions. It can push people to consider different perspectives and deepen their understanding. Also, it helps avoid bias and can highlight knowledge gaps, misconceptions, or outdated beliefs, encouraging personal or professional development.

If you struggle challenging effectively, here are five steps you can take:

1. Clearly understand what you want to challenge and why. Consider whether it’s a matter of differing opinions, facts, or misunderstandings.

2. Find a suitable time for the conversation, avoiding moments of rush or stress or in a public setting where the other person might feel embarrassed.

3. Express your thoughts as personal observations or feelings, e.g., “I noticed…” or “I feel…” This approach is less likely to be perceived as accusatory, and you’ll avoid The Invisible Army syndrome (where you may say “we” when it’s just you).

4. After you’ve presented your viewpoint, ask them to share their thoughts. Show that you value their perspective by listening actively and acknowledging their comments.

5. Don’t challenge without offering suggestions for resolving or improving the situation, and be open to hearing their suggestions.

It may seem counterintuitive, but constructive challenges can build trust, bring a sense of deeper understanding, and encourage open communication. It can also help boost innovation and create a safer, more inclusive environment. And remember, this isn’t about personal preference; it’s about doing the right thing with fairness, respect, and integrity.

If you need help with a complex issue or a situation that may require some challenging conversations, then we are here to support you – we offer coaching services as well as consultancy for communication, change, confidence and culture – with inclusive practices at the heart of everything we do. Get in touch!

Originally posted on LinkedIn, follow me for more curious moments.


CommsRebel can help you revolutionise workplace cultures from inside out. If you would like to cultivate a thriving inclusive culture so colleagues unleash their full potential, we can help! Please get in touch and let’s have a chat.

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