Bringing Preparation, Presence and Purpose to Your Conversations

In today’s workplaces, conversations — especially the difficult ones — play a key role in shaping relationships, building trust, and driving productivity. Yet, despite their significance, many people find themselves stumbling through these conversations. They are unsure of how to work through the complexities they involve. In my book, “Savvy Conversations: A Practical Framework for Effective Workplace Relationships,” I explore the essence of mastering the art of difficult conversations. I offer insights and strategies to empower leaders and teams to engage in them with confidence and effectiveness.

I believe that learning how to have conversations more successfully should be a lifelong journey. Whether it’s addressing performance issues, delivering constructive feedback, or addressing conflicts, the ability to handle difficult conversations is a hallmark of effective leadership. My philosophy is rooted in the understanding that conversations are not merely exchanges of words – they are mechanisms for change and growth.

Central to the Savvy Conversations approach is the recognition that creating psychologically safe and trusting cultures is paramount. When individuals feel safe to express their thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment or reprisal, meaningful dialogue can flourish. This paves the way for more creative solutions and greater collaboration. By creating environments where the right conversations happen in the right way at the right time, organisations can realise the full potential of their people.

If you’re familiar with my book, you will know about my practical framework, STREETCREDS. It’s designed to equip you with the necessary tools to navigate difficult conversations effectively.

But beyond the framework, some additional considerations may support you. Three principles stand out when approaching conversations, particularly challenging ones: preparation, presence and purpose.



Preparation is the foundation of successful conversations, even when they are difficult. Whenever you can, before starting a conversation, it’s important to clarify your objectives, anticipate potential challenges, and think through how you’ll get constructive engagement. By investing time and effort in a little preparation, you can start your conversations with clarity and confidence. This will lay the groundwork for productive outcomes.



Presence means being fully engaged and attentive during conversations, demonstrating empathy, and actively listening to understand rather than to respond. Developing a presence that encourages connection and mutual respect is key to building rapport and diffusing tensions, even in the most challenging circumstances.



Purpose drives the direction and outcome of difficult conversations. Leaders must articulate their intentions clearly, maintain focus on desired outcomes, and navigate conversations with authenticity and integrity. By aligning your actions with your overarching goals and values, you can steer conversations towards positive resolution and mutual understanding, building trust and respect amongst team members.


Mastering the art of difficult conversations is an ongoing journey that needs practice and commitment.  By embracing the STREETCREDS framework, alongside the principles of preparation, presence and purpose, workplaces can become positive environments where conversations create growth, innovation, and success —one savvy conversation at a time.

If you’re ready to conquer your own conversation and leadership challenges, do order a copy of my book or get in touch to find out more.


Want to know more?

Sarah Harvey is Founding Director of Savvy Conversations Ltd and author of the highly acclaimed book “Savvy Conversations: A practical framework for effective workplace relationships.”


Linked In:

X: @SarahSavvySarah

Instagram: savvysarah




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