Image representing the transformative power of mastering uncomfortable conversations

Mastering Uncomfortable Conversations


Inspired by the latest video from Simon Sinek on uncomfortable conversations, I wanted to reflect on the importance of addressing such situations in a Scrum team.

As human beings, we know that discomfort is an inevitable part of life. Whether it’s in our personal or professional relationships, tensions can arise, causing us to feel uneasy or even frustrated.

When working in a Scrum team, these uncomfortable conversations may emerge among team members, and how we handle them can make a significant difference in team dynamics and productivity.

In this episode, we’ll explore the importance of addressing uncomfortable situations and provide you with valuable tips on how to handle these challenging conversations with uncooperative Scrum team members.

1. Lean into Tension

Avoiding uncomfortable conversations may seem like a tempting option, but it rarely leads to a positive outcome. Instead, embrace the discomfort and lean into the tension. By doing so, you create an opportunity for growth and resolution. Recognize that addressing the issue is more important than avoiding it, and it will strengthen the team’s bond.

2. Seek Permission and Set the Stage

When initiating an uncomfortable conversation, start by seeking permission from the other person. Let them know that you need to discuss something important and that you value their willingness to engage in the conversation. By doing this, you allow them to mentally prepare for the discussion, making them less defensive and more receptive to what you have to say.

3. Practice the FBI method 

To effectively communicate your concerns, use the FBI method (Feelings, Behavior, Impact). Describe your feelings about the situation using precise terms rather than general emotions. Be specific about the behavior that led to those feelings. Avoid broad accusations like “you always” and instead focus on recent or particularly significant instances.

Lastly, explain the potential impact of the behavior on you, the team, and the project. By addressing the consequences honestly, you help the other person understand the significance of the issue and its potential implications.

Here is 1 Example

Let’s consider how to handle an uncomfortable conversation with a team member turning Uncomfortable into Positive:

Here is the Scenario: During a recent sprint planning meeting, one team member consistently interrupted others and dismissed their ideas, causing tension and frustration within the team.

1. Approach:

  • Seek Permission: Approach the team member and say, “I’d like to have an uncomfortable conversation with you about the sprint planning meeting. Can we discuss this now, or would you prefer a specific time later?”

2. FBI Method

  • Feelings: “I felt really frustrated and disheartened during the sprint planning meeting.”
  • Behavior: “I noticed that you interrupted others several times and dismissed their ideas without considering them.”
  • Impact: “This behavior created tension within the team, and it made me concerned that our collaboration might suffer in the future, hindering our progress.”

4. Foster Openness and Vulnerability

To encourage a productive conversation, be open and vulnerable. Share your fears, insecurities, and concerns honestly. This will help the other person feel more comfortable doing the same.

As seen in the example, the team member may respond by opening up about their reasons for interrupting, leading to a deeper understanding and resolution.

5. Focus on Solutions

After expressing your feelings and concerns, shift the conversation towards finding solutions. Brainstorm ways to improve communication, collaboration, and teamwork. Remember that the goal is to strengthen the team and create a more cohesive working environment.


Confronting uncomfortable situations with uncooperative Scrum team members can be challenging, but it is an essential skill for fostering healthy relationships and successful teamwork.

By embracing discomfort, seeking permission, using the FBI method, fostering openness, and focusing on solutions, you can turn these conversations into opportunities for growth and collaboration.

Remember, effective communication is at the heart of every successful Scrum team, and mastering the art of handling uncomfortable conversations will set you and your team up for long-term success. So, don’t shy away from those difficult discussions—embrace them and watch your team flourish!

Read more…Tips that will help you deal with uncooperative team members

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