11. Deconstructing a Difficult Conversation with Nicole Posner

Conflict is a regular occurrence in business, work and life. I often walk away from a difficult conversation and later kick myself when I realise what I should have said. 

I like to believe that I’m a fairly empathetic individual. Many of the characteristics around empathy are key to effectively engaging in a difficult conversation. However, my version of empathy can often be heavily weighted around my emotions. That can be advantageous, but unbalanced emotions in a moment of conflict can be fuel to a fire. 

This is something I know too well. I’ve played every character in a conflict. The protagonist that helps mediate or helps identify the need for mediation. The antagonist who has at times – for right or wrong – catalysed a conflict. And finally, the one who has been formally or informally mediated. 

I wanted to gauge how well I understood this topic, so I reached out to Nicole Posner. Nicole is a professional Communication/Conflict Specialist and Workplace Mediator. My conversation with Nicole didn’t just fill the gaps in my knowledge. Her insight enabled me to zoom out and look at mediation from a much broader perspective.

“Avoidance is a marvellous thing, but serves nobody apart from self protection.”

Nicole Posner

There is a gift in Nicole’s presence. One that enables people to feel safe and most importantly acknowledged. It’s these embodiments of human sentiment that we seek on a daily basis. When our communication frequencies are jammed we can feel isolated, unheard and at times victimised. 

The human impact on people can be debilitating. 

When somebody feels unbalanced at work, the seismic impact can be felt across personal and family relationships. The root cause of workplace conflict can take many guises. From bullying to harassment or even the output of a disciplinary process. One that may feel unfair.

To help deconstruct a difficult conversation and navigate conflict – this episode aims to address:

  • Why it’s important to ground yourself – either before a difficult conversation or how to respond if a conflict takes you by surprise
  • The importance of being calm, engaged and present in the conversation
  • The role of dignity and what dignity can mean in this scenario
  • Why social norms have ingrained a win/lose mentality and why people often defer a difficult conversation
  • How to recognise when somebody needs help and informal intervention techniques
  • How Zoom has made challenging conversations more complex
  • The power of silence in not only diffusing a difficult conversation but also it’s role in catalysing one
  • Why recalibration of boundaries can go beyond the ones that are crossed
  • How to balance the mission vs. the person
  • How other forms of communication – beyond conversation – can be effective in resolving disputes
  • The importance of active listening

I’m hoping this conversation will enable us to reflect on how to avoid an arising conflict. There are clues in the conversation, ones that if leveraged can avoid the need for a mediation. 

As we journey through conversation, we also explore Nicole’s career path. One that weaved its way from the performing arts to public relations. The drama, the characters and the personalities along the way certainly provide Nicole with the unique ability to decode conflict. Let’s not forget, some characters enjoy conflict. It can be a sport. One that provides a degree of satisfaction at somebody else’s expense.

Mediation isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about finding a common ground, one with compromise. However, sometimes we have to zoom out the lens and offer concession as a gift. If we see others struggling, we should reflect on the cascading impact this may have on their life outside of work. 

Blessings and love,


What is actually going on here for you? What are you protecting? What do you need from this to be who you need to be? – Nicole

The worst way of starting a difficult conversation is – we need to talk – that just put’s up my shield.“ – Bobby

There are certain individuals that find confrontation a sport. – Bobby

We are hardwired to process danger by running away. That’s how our brains feel when we’re under attack.” – Nicole

I’ve never walked into a situation thinking I’ll come out saying – I’ve changed that persons mind.” – Bobby

When people are invested in the process, the outcome is more sustainable.” – Nicole

A physical connection can bring emotional attributes that words simply can’t express.” – Bobby


Website: Nicole Posner Mediation
LinkedIn Profile: Nicole Posner
Instagram: Nicole_Posner_London