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How to Have Difficult Conversations at Work

Let’s face it, we’re not always going to agree with our coworkers, bosses, or clients. We’re built to disagree with one another, to have diverse interests, and tackle problems and situations from different angles and in different ways. For the most part, that’s what is beautiful about working on a team. But, this also means that difficult conversations are part of the mix. However, when done right, talking through these conversations can spark creativity and understanding. Whether you find yourself disagreeing with your coworker, or have to give a client bad news, consider using these tips when a difficult conversation arises.

Acknowledge your differences

There can be very negative consequences when conflict isn’t addressed. Resentment can build and a toxic work culture can follow. The best way to avoid these consequences is to address your conflict or differences head on. Enter into the conversation knowing you have a different opinion, but don’t completely write off the other person’s perspective. It can be difficult, but try treating the conversation as a learning opportunity; consider compromising, and if needed, address the root of the conflict, not just the straw that broke the camel’s back.


We all react in different ways. Some people are really good at expressing their frustrations, while others let the frustration build until they explode. Know yourself and take time to reflect on how you’re handling the situation and how you want to be handling the situation. This is where breathing comes in. Before you react, take deep breaths, and buy yourself some time to respond to the situation intentionally.


Sometimes in the midst of difficult conversations, our minds can go blank. Write down specific points you want to address in your conversation, but don’t memorize your words verbatim. In order to have an authentic conversation, you have to do some of your thinking in the moment.

Take notes

It’s important to feel like you’re being heard, especially during a crucial conversation. If it feels appropriate, consider taking notes during your conversation in an effort to understand the person you’re speaking with. Pay attention to your body language and non-verbal cues throughout the discussion. It’s easy for your body to say one thing while your words say another. Remember that as difficult as this conversation is for you, it’s likely that the person on the other end feels the same way.

Conflict is a natural part of building a team’s cohesiveness. It’s nothing to worry about, and can actually strengthen working relationships. The key to having success with conflict, is to take the time to talk through it and find a solution that works for all who are involved.

Preventing Job Burnout

We spend so much of our week working, focusing on projects, overcoming challenges, and finding ways to grow and maintain our businesses. It shouldn’t be surprising then that, according to the American Institute of Stress, nearly 80 percent of us experience stress while at work and also have trouble managing it. Our lives can be stressful as is, so when there’s additional stress coming from our jobs and careers, the outcome isn’t always pretty. Job burnout comes when we experience severe stress that goes unacknowledged. Eventually that stress can cause us to become doubtful of our work, and can even affect our ability to problem solve and limit our creativity. Fortunately, job burnout happens incrementally, so when we know what to look for, it’s easier to address. Here are some ways to prevent job burnout before it begins:

Identify your support systems at work. Teams are important for many different reasons. We solve problems as a team, make decisions, and share responsibilities. It’s also important for teams to support each other on a personal level. This doesn’t mean we have to know everything about our team members, but we should be able to identify when they need to be supported and how to do so. It can be difficult for many, but it’s crucial that when we begin to feel stress we know how to ask for help. Think about ways you need to be supported and how others can help you.

Think about the big picture. Stress and subsequent job burnout builds slowly, and can be exacerbated by everyday triggers. Thinking about long-term goals can help us reorient, regroup, and get reenergized. When we feel like we’re burnt out, it’s best to think about the reasons why. Are your values and passions being met at work? Do you feel useful? Are your ideas coming to fruition? A lot of times, stress can appear in different ways. Identifying where it’s coming from and why it’s happening is a great way to know how we can address our burnout.

Practice self-care. Taking care of yourself has a bad rep in the business world. We all want to give 100% of ourselves and energy to creating the best business we can build. But, the truth is if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of our businesses. Go back to the basics. Eating, sleeping, and spending time with your family might seem obvious, but a lot of times it’s what can keep us from experiencing burnout. Know what you need to take care of yourself. And remember, chances are you won’t regret taking that vacation.

You can access more tips and advice on how to handle burnout here. Need some guidance on how to avoid burnout? Let us know!

Networking Tips for Small Business Owners: Learn to Love It

Whether you’ve been in the business world for a while, or are just starting out, chances are you’ve already come face to face with an entrepreneur’s favorite (or least favorite) word: networking. While connecting with people comes naturally for some, it can be difficult and even daunting for those who are trying to start or maintain their own business. Running a successful and sustainable business requires some variety of networking no matter how big or small. Networking is a wonderful way to grow your skills, add to your contact list, and brainstorm new ideas. But, if you’re unsure where to begin or how to do it, keep reading.

Come to Learn

There’s a common misconception that networking is a way to climb the social or corporate ladder. However, the end goal of networking isn’t necessarily to see how much you can get, but how much you can learn and connect with other people. Networking is just as much about what you can give as what you can receive. Interacting with a like-minded, yet diverse group of people will not only do wonders for your career and business, but also for you as an individual and entrepreneur.

Think Outside of Yourself

When you find a meaningful reason to network, it becomes more about your passion and less about self-interest. If you think about supporting others’ creative endeavors, rather than who you might meet to help kick start your new project, chances are you’ll feel better about networking. Networking events and groups can become your community and support system over time. If you’re networking successfully, you’ll be able to contribute to others’ work while also receiving the support you need for your own.

Network Intentionally

There are so many networking events designed for professionals. It’s important to be strategic about where you’re spending your time and energy. Many groups require a yearly fee to support events and meetings, so only commit to those groups that you will benefit from the most. When you’re looking for a networking community, it’s crucial to stay focused. Remember, your time is precious and successful networking takes a lot of energy.

Follow Up

It’s great to meet new people and learn about new opportunities. But, the truth is that not much happens if you don’t follow up. Make it a habit to take a business card or email address to ensure that your new connections don’t end with your first conversation. When it comes to successful networking, staying proactive is key.

Our greatest tip of all? Have fun with it! At Quadrivium Advisors, we get inspired by the people we meet through networking and we can help you love it to! Connect with us here

Personality Assessments, What’s With ‘Em?

It’s not unusual to see organizations offer or require their employees to participate in a personality assessment. There are many different types of assessments that leaders use for their employees. Some choose to use personality or behavior assessments, while others use assessments that closely identify a person’s strengths and natural tendencies in a workplace setting. At Quadrivium Advisors, we use an Advance Insight Profile to measure motivations, drivers, and talents. While these assessments can vary in kind and type, most are used for the same reasons.


It can be easy to name the strengths or tendencies of your coworker or boss, but when it comes to assessing our own characteristics, it can be quite difficult. We don’t often see ourselves, or our actions, in the same way that others do in the workplace. Whether we use personality assessments or a strength’s finder test, both are good at identifying our strengths and limitations in a non-biased way. Once we assess these tendencies, we will be able to harness our skills while being aware of what improvements we can make. For example, our Advance Insight Profile helps clients identify their talents and clarifies their preferred ways of using them. This awareness can help employees and clients understand themselves and each other more clearly.

Building Effective Teams

When we know each other’s strengths, we’re more likely to know how to utilize each other effectively. Strengths and personality assessments give us a common language that we can use together with our teams. The data we receive from personality and strengths assessments can help us navigate different situations. At Quadrivium, we use our assessment results as a team to understand what motivates each of us as individuals and how to harness these motivators as a team. These assessments give us the insight we need when deciding who does what on a big project, or knowing who to go to when we need help or direction.


Personality and strengths assessments are great tools to use individually, especially when we use them to improve as employees. But, these assessments are great to come back to periodically with your team. Teams that take time to share with each other, and make it a point to grow both as individuals and as a team, are more likely to function as a cohesive and effective unit. Some assessments even come with discussion questions and material to use together as a team.

Find Meaningful Work

A lot of times, these assessments can help guide us well into our careers. When we know what drives us and what makes us happy, we’re able to seek it out in our work. If our work responsibilities match our strengths, chances are we’re going to be happy while doing really great work. Strengths assessments give us the opportunity to reexamine what type of work challenges us while giving us meaning.

At Quadrivium, using the Advance Insight Profile gives us a holistic approach to understanding ourselves, our clients, and our teams. Together, our assessment results create the WHAT, WHY, and HOW that drives our work, motivates us, and keeps us moving forward. If you’re interested in using the Advance Insight Profile with your team, let us know!

Should Your Small Business Consider Outsourcing?

When we think of outsourcing work, we usually think of big businesses who can afford it. But, the truth is that outsourcing can be an effective approach to sustaining a successful small business. When we talk about outsourcing, we mean contracting or partnering with other business to complete different aspects of your work. If you’re looking to cut costs, become more efficient, or make more time for other “big picture” items, outsourcing might be a good option for your small business. Here are some popular ways to outsource and benefits that you might see as an outcome.

Make Time for “Visionary” Thinking

Day to day tasks of maintaining a small business can take up a lot of time. For a small business owner, time is precious no matter if you have a small team or if you’re the sole employee. Outsourcing tedious and consistent work helps make time for long-term strategy and visionary thinking. What we mean by this is that the more time you free up, the more time you have to spend on growing your business. Where do you see your business going in the next three to five years? Do you want to expand your business but don’t have the time? This is where outsourcing can become an integral part of your business’ success.

Produce Better Work

When we outsource work, we have the opportunity to work with people who specialize in whatever it is that we’re asking them to do. Whether it’s graphic design or accounts payable, chances are we will choose to outsource the work we have experienced the least. Sometimes it’s better to outsource the design of your new website rather than spending the time to figure it out yourself.

Cut Your Costs

Allocating where your funds are going and where your revenue is coming from is a crucial part of running a business. If funds are tight, or maybe you’re just being smarter about your capital, outsourcing is a good option. When small businesses choose to outsource, they’re eliminating the need to hire and train an employee for a specific task or area of work. This way, funds are freed up and now available to use in different areas like expansion and investment.

Okay, okay we’re ready to outsource. Now what?

If you’ve decided that outsourcing is the right choice for your small business, here are some areas to consider to outsource:

Information Technology

IT is such a specialized field that it can be difficult and time consuming to learn yourself. IT includes a lot of different areas like maintaining your website, upgrading and maintaining your security, hardware and software.


Tired of balancing your own books? Or, maybe tax season got the best of you this year. Whatever the reason, you’re not alone when it comes to outsourcing accounting needs, in fact, many small businesses choose to outsource accounting.

Social Media and Marketing

Maintaining your social media accounts can be very time-consuming. Social media platforms and marketing techniques can also be confusing for those who are unfamiliar with them. There are many outside contractors who specialize in maintaining your social media handles, marketing strategy, blog writing, and web-design/ content. If you’re spending too much of your time keeping up with Facebook, and not enough time strategizing, it may be wise to outsource.

What’s been your best outsourcing move?



Quadrivium: noun[kwo-driv-ee-uh m]

from Latin quadrivium, which means 'a place where four points meet"

Bringing you to that perfect point.

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Cincinnati OH 45236