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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Prepare for the conversation

Prepare for the conversation

It’s important you prepare for the conversation. It’ll help you think about what you’d like to achieve, recognise your emotions, and see things from the other person’s perspective.

By preparing well, the conversation is more likely to go smoothly, get you to the right outcomes, and be a positive experience for everyone.

Take some time to self-reflect

Work out what the problem is and make sure your reason for speaking to the other person is clear in your head. You might intend to offer support, but then realise you’re being too critical.

Try to start the conversation with your purpose in mind. Be supportive and clear, so the other person understands.

What you’d like to achieve from the conversation could be as simple as seeing things from each other’s point of view, or deciding on actions together.

Go into the conversation believing it’ll be successful. Make sure you’re clear on what actions you’ll accept (and won’t accept) to solve the issue.

You might find it useful to get support from your line manager or another team member. They can support you through this challenging situation and offer a space for you to vent. As part of your preparation, see if you can share your thoughts with them.

You might like to invite them to the meeting to observe or take notes (if needed), so you can focus on the conversation.

It can be daunting to have a constructive conversation, so check you’re in the right state of mind. Try to remain calm and believe you’re doing the right thing.

Remember – by having this conversation now, you could prevent a situation from getting worse, and end up with a better outcome for everyone.


Prepare the other person

Let the other person know you’d like to talk to them and why.

If you're not sure about how to approach the other person, you might find these conversation openers useful:

  • I need your help with what just happened. Do you have a few minutes to talk?
  • I need your help with something. Can we talk about it (soon)?
  • I think we have different perspectives on ______________. I’d like to hear your thinking on this. When is the best time for us to talk?
  • I’d be great if we could reach a better understanding about ___________. I really want to hear your thoughts about this and share my perspective as well. Can we talk about it on ______?

Depending on the reason for the conversation, you could suggest they bring someone they trust.

Suggest a place to meet where you both feel comfortable and have no distractions. This could be your usual meeting place outside your regular meeting time, or another public space where you can have some privacy and not be interrupted.

When you agree a time to meet, make sure you have enough time to share your views and chat about a way forward.


Plan the conversation

Depending on your reason for the conversation, you might need to chat with other people first, or remind yourself of key processes and policies.

If the conversation is about an incident or the person’s behaviour, make sure you give specific examples or details.

Make sure you have the facts, rather than people’s opinions or rumours.

Think about how you’ll explain your view usefully and clearly. Let the other person know you want to hear their thoughts, as well as share yours, and decide on a way forward together.

Be mindful that some words could sound accusing or condescending. The words you choose might trigger certain reactions and emotions.

Practise what you’ll say, and when you have your plan, it’s a good idea to write it down.

You don’t need to share your plan with anyone, but it can help if you talk it through or practice the conversation with someone you trust.

Your background always plays a role in how you act and communicate.

Depending on your age, gender, race, cultural and social background, you might express yourself, see things and understand information in a different way to the person you’re having the conversation with. Think about how these possible differences might influence your conversation.  

A good tip is to be as clear as possible. Express your thoughts explicitly. Using expressions, jargons and metaphors could confuse and mislead people, and your message might not come across how you planned.

If someone has a different background or identity to yourself, it is even more important to ask their understanding of the situation so you are able to work from the same page.

Take time to think about how you deal with conflict and what your triggers are. This can help you better prepare for what they have to say.

Think about the different outcomes of this conversation and try to plan for different responses. Think broadly about how the conversation might go.

The other person could say something you’re not expecting, so it’s good to think about what you might say. For example:

  • That’s interesting, I hadn’t thought about that. Could you tell me a bit more?
  • I’ll need a little time to think about that. Can we come back to it later?

Think about your next steps after the conversation. For example, how much time you’ll need for actions afterwards, any other meetings you might need, and when you’ll document the conversation (if needed).

Remember, both of you could need support after having the conversation. Why not suggest the other person talks to a closer team member about it, or you could ask another team member to check in with them?

Decide if there are any short term changes you’ll need to put in place locally. For example, arranging cover if the other person won’t be carrying on their role. Also, how you’ll support others that could be affected by the outcome and what you’ll need to do to manage people’s views. This includes what, how and who you’ll communicate with.

To watch in full screen, double click the video

Dealing with difficult situations

Watch the interviews to get some tips on how to deal with difficult situations.

Liz Walker, County Commissioner, Hertfordshire

Two members of a team clearly had different points of view, but were both really valuable members of Scouting. So really trying to get them both, and it was a difficult conversation, but get them to understand the other person’s point of view and also what it meant to me, and actually moving forward as a team.

So speaking to each of them individually, but then the really difficult thing of speaking to them together in one room, and getting each of them to see the other’s point of view, and not leaving any ground untouched.

Abdulmukith Ahmed, Group Scout Leader, East London

The way I would deal with complaints would be first listen to the person get it written down, speak to the other side involved, get their version written down as well. So there’s a paper trail of what’s happening. And after that, I have a meeting with both of them, and try to solve the issue there.

If it’s something I can’t do, then I’ll get other people involved, whether it’s people above me – my manager, like the District Commissioner, or other group leaders who might be in a better situation to advise me on how to deal with this issue, and just keeping both sides up to date with what’s happening, so they don't feel like ‘I’ve said my version, and what’s going to happen, and I’m not hearing back.’ The last thing you want is to make them feel like they’ve said it, and there’s no outcome. You want that resolved.

Amir Cheema, District Commissioner, Brunel

Within all of this, we’ve got to remember ‘Why are we doing Scouting?’ It’s for the young people, and that’s the bottom line.

From a belief system, how I approach conflict is – I believe everyone is trying their best with the resources they have with them. And that’s what they’re trying. When I approach the people, I’m thinking ‘what’s their best positive intention?’ from what they’re trying to do and achieve. Same talking to the other party, ‘what’s their positive intention?’ By understanding both of those, then we can come to a resolution.

I believe that you can do anything. And as Scouts, obviously, we can do anything.

Preparation sheet

The preparation sheet helps you gather your thoughts, plan and structure your conversation.

Download preparation sheet PDF
Talking about overdue training

Five additional tips when having a conversation about overdue training, and how to encourage volunteers to continue on their learning journey.

Read how to talk about overdue training >

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