More people happier talking about sex than discussing their salary

Research from the CMI reveals that 33% of Brits worry about discussing their pay at work while only 19% have concerns about discussing the birds and the bees

More people happier talking about sex than discussing their salary

If there’s one thing us Brits hate more than anything, it’s difficult conversations. We spend our lives trying to avoid them in the faint hope that everything will work out in the end. More often than not though, we’re left with no option but to face the music. And, according to research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), the majority of us are more fearful of work conversations than personal chats with our loved ones.

Of the 2,000 workers surveyed by the CMI, a third said they found it hard to broach the subject of their pay packet at work, 31% said it was tricky to raise the issue of a colleague’s inappropriate behaviour and 30% admitted they were fearful of giving feedback on poor performance. However, when it comes to more personal topics, we don’t seem to have as much trouble. Just 19% of respondents said they worried about discussing sex, 17% found it hard to talk about a relationship break-up and a further 16% included money in their list of tricky chats. 

The research goes on the reveal that these difficult conversations are taking an emotional toll on workers; 66% of respondents said they made them feel stressed or anxious, while 11% admitted they slept badly or had nightmares in the lead up to a challenging work conversation. 

But why exactly are people so reluctant to tackle these tricky work chats? According to the CMI, 31% of workers are fearful of not being able to get a point across clearly while 30% are concerned about getting upset or emotional. As a result, 57% of respondents said they would do almost anything to avoid having a difficult conversation and 52% would rather put up with a negative situation at work than face discussing it. However, for those left with no choice but to talk things out, it’s senior managers who tend to struggle the most; 40% admitted to panicking and telling a lie when faced with tricky conversation and 43% said they’d lost their temper and shouted.    

“Our survey findings reveal that difficult conversations are really taking their toll on workers,” said Petra Wilton, director of strategy and external affairs at CMI. “It’s scandalous that so many people would rather be miserable at work than face a difficult conversation. This reluctance to talk things through not only has a negative impact on individuals but can quickly affect wider team morale.”

With 80% of the population having never had any training on tackling tricky conversations, the CMI has put together a handy ‘conversationalist’ quiz to help managers dust up their discourse. Why not give it a go? 

Adam Pescod
Adam Pescod

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