Helping You Cope With & Stop



How Do You Rate as a Respectful Conversationalist?

It takes most people tremendous courage to approach someone for an important conversation. Therefore, we have to ensure approachable, safe environments in order for someone to share openly. As a target of workplace bullying, most have experienced ‘less than respectful’ conversations along the way.

Here is an assessment you can take and also use to evaluate others in order to know if respect is in place at all. Knowing what creates a respectful conversation is important in order to make sure we conduct ourselves well with others, should they need to talk. Equally important is knowing that if a conversation did not go well when you tried to reach out, that the other person is also responsible for creating a win-win connection. This assessment can support you in the reminder that you do not need to be ‘over-responsible’ while creating a respectful conversation. It does indeed take two people!

Do You: (Rate yourself on a scale of 1 – 5; where 5 = Always, 3 = Sometimes, and 1 = Never)

1. Believe in the need for open, honest communication and feedback?

5 4  3  2  1

2. Make time to hear other people’s needs without being interrupted or rushed?

5   4   3   2   1

3. Seek the person in order to connect by inviting conversations and challenges?

5   4   3   2   1

4. Approach the person directly, vs gossiping or sharing your frustrations with others?

5   4   3   2   1

5. Listen with a sincere and honest intention to deeply understand the other person?

5   4   3   2   1

6. Remain curious and ask “What do they really mean?”. Imagine how the person feels.

5   4   3   2   1

7. Show acknowledgement and take shared ownership in the problem and their feelings as opposed to being defensive or dismissive?  e.g. “Thank you for telling me”, “I share your concern”.

5   4   3   2   1

8. Remain open and concerned even if you disagree with what the other person is saying?

5   4   3   2   1

9. Paraphrase or summarize what you have heard in order to ensure clear understanding?

5   4   3   2   1

10. Thank the person for caring enough to talk to you to help create a win-win?

5   4   3   2   1

Suggestion: Circulate this assessment in your department and ask each member of your team to complete this questionnaire.  For over-achievers, complete this on others and have them complete it on you as well.  Share the results 1:1 looking for ways to improve how best to have a respectful conversation between the two of you.

Too scary?  Yes, this requires leadership.  Trust that by conducting this assessment, you’ll at least know where people stand in their commitments.  By being clear of what is required first, it is then that you can look to hold people accountable for interpersonal snags that get in the way of truly connecting.

Will this work for a workplace bully? Probably not, but seeing what is required for a respectful conversation and evaluating conversations you’ve had with the bully can help you to be reminded that you will not be able to ‘win’ by talking.

Why use this assessment at all? Some people are still not clear if they are dealing with a workplace bully or a difficult person.  Guaranteed, no bully will be interested in talking to you in a respectful way unless someone is watching.  A difficult person might be interested, so it is worth a try.

“Nothing strengthens authority as much as silence.”    ~ Leonardo da Vinci


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4 responses to “How Do You Rate as a Respectful Conversationalist?”

  1. Ajpearson says:

    I will never be able to talk to the people that bully me without my husband with me. I do not go to the business if he is not there they do not want me there or on this planet. Ppaoz

  2. BertieorBirdie says:

    You really saved my skin with this information. Thanks!

  3. Jane Martin says:

    Great site, Valerie.

    As someone who has fought (and resolved) workplace issues, I have some very good resources:;; and

    Otherwise, you will hop from one interview to another–not realizing your ex-boss is trashing you to potential employers.

  4. Catherine says:

    I suffered bullying at work 11 years ago and when a new girl commenced working there I stupidly confided in her about my issues with the Boss. The boss withheld a promotion from me which I found out about on the day I left. I was furious and spoke to this girl about it telling her that’s it he’s done enough I want my job back. She told me she couldn’t be my friend anymore if I went back there, she hated working with me. My the time I met with my ex boss to ask for my job back he told me that was not possible. I couldn’t come back there because of the girl. I wondered what was going on. When all the bullying stuff was happening at work I started drinking to deal with it. The girl knew this. My drinking increased following all the deceit and betrayal. I asked her what I had ever done to her and she told me I was too perfect. She also claimed I never taught her anything and she was made to look like an idiot when I left and she took over my job and knew nothing. I was confused. She planted documents in my home, I was accused of not handing in the office keys (which were handed to her) and had entered the office and changed important information on the whiteboard and stolen office documents. That if I came anywhere near the office the police were to be contacted. If I mentioned any of this she would deny it and that she had told people I had a drinking problem that’s why I left so no one was going to believe me anyway. Following all the bullying I had endured from the Boss this just about ended me. I was suicidal and my drinking increased. It’s been 10 years now, I lost my marriage, house and it’s effected my children. My husband and I got back together 5 years ago but he got back a different person. I had difficulty sleeping and found it difficult to work. My alcohol intake was increasing and I still had suicidal thoughts. I booked myself into rehabilitation a couple of months ago and am doing really well. Our lives were turned upside down because of this workplace incident. Sometimes I think i’ll never get over it. I want the truth, I want them to know how much this has effected my life. Unfortunately it’s apparently too late to take any legal action.

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Valerie Cade, CSP is a Workplace Bullying Expert, Speaker and Author of "Bully Free at Work: What You Can Do To Stop Workplace Bullying Now!" which has been distributed in over 100 countries worldwide. For presentations and consulting on workplace bullying prevention and respectful workplace implementation, go to

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