At times we feel overwhelmed due to the need to have a potentially gritty conversation with a friend, colleague, boss, partner or family member. This is a theme which often pops up in my coaching practice. Usually we have gone over and over our thoughts of anxiety, resentment, anger or sadness – often imprisoned by a repetition of the same scenario as a hamster wheel in our minds, as we think of someone in a tricky scenario.

The way forward or out of this misery is to have a Gritty Conversation to clear misunderstandings, appreciate the other, express our needs and find a constructive way forward. The hamburger metaphor for gritty conversations is not new. However, my client, a dynamic market research team, and I have created a gourmet burger of conversation. This recipe is also pertinent as the basis for those dreaded performance appraisals which HR demand of us.

My friends will smile at my boldness in sharing recipes – as I am not known for my culinary skills – but this is a recipe of the mind and heart – and not the stomach! May it lead you to having conversations which clear your mind for happier thoughts and improved and richer relationships in your life.


Recipe for making a wholesome hamburger of feedback – a gritty conversation


  1. Preparing the ingredients.

Be clear on your intentions for the conversation. What is your best intention? What message do you wish to convey? What will be a win/win outcome for this conversation? How should your mood be to best have the conversation – calm, centered and clear. How will you manage the tone if the other person becomes defended/emotional? When is the best time and place to have the conversation?


  1. Top bun.

This is the appreciation ingredient. Affirm the other person in a genuine manner for something specific that they have done in their work, your relationship or as a team member.


  1. Patty – either a yummy lentil patty or quality mince – good protein.

Present the facts of what you observed or what occurred without embellished stories or exaggerated emotions. State clearly why this might have been unacceptable to you and what your expectations were.


  1. Tasty garnishing – pickles, tomatoes, cheese, onions and crispy lettuce.

Asking incisive questions is the deliciousness of any conversation. Ask the person for their version of events. What was their intention? What got in the way? How did they feel about the results? Listen with an open mind and heart. Do not interrupt. Acknowledge their feelings even if different to yours.


  1. Bottom bun.

Summarise the conversation. Confirm both your understanding. Your version may well have shifted. Agree on actions going forward. Affirm the person for the way they showed up during your conversation.


  1. Serve on a plate with a serviette.

This is the closure – pop the person a mail or text with a short summary of your agreement going forward. Keep the tone of the mail positive and again affirm the person.


There may well be people who are not willing to even taste your delicious burger – accept them in their hunger state as not being able or willing to shift their perspective by even having a conversation with you. We do not know what burdens people carry which leads to them shutting others out – but it is not for us to take this personally as it is not our business. Rather celebrate the people who are in your life and are willing to share a meal of human connection.


Here’s wishing you many great gritty conversations, which when held in a skilled, heartfelt and mindful way, will lead to feelings of calm, clarity, improved relationships and actions leading to great outcomes.