5 steps to handle hard topics together

Pre-S: This easy process is how we take on tough topics in our family, and forms the heart of our book Radical Alignment, available now on Audible

Last week I gave you a detailed practice to help you, on your own, get clear on a tough topic here.

This week, we’re stepping it up a level, and you’ll talk about a hard topic with someone else.


Give the other person a 24-hour heads up. Don’t spring it on them, if you can help it.

(Nothing sets my adrenaline off when someone says to me: “We Need To Talk.”)

Try this: Hey, can we talk about X tomorrow? Here’s a simple structure I learned that we can use to frame the topic together. (share the 4 points below, or send them this email)

Pick a comfortable, distraction-free space with plenty of time available to complete the conversation without feeling rushed. Next, name the specific issue you will be discussing.

A good setup will look like this: “We are talking about X — so we can become a better team,” or “Let’s talk about our summer vacation — so we both have a wonderful time.”


Go one section at a time, and make sure you give each person ample time to dig deep and answer completely before moving on to the next person. The questions below are prompts to get you thinking, so don’t feel pressured to answer each one.

Challenge yourself to speak with authenticity and to listen without judgment.

When speaking do your best to be vulnerable and complete.

When listening be as open as possible – only ask questions if they are encouraging and curious.

Don’t argue points, just use this time to listen to each other. ( A TON of clarity and empathy can come from this process)

These 4 steps are what we call the All-In Method, and it forms the main tool of our upcoming book, Radical Alignment:


Why do you want to be a part of this X?

How can this support your personal goals?

Which of your values do you want to bring to this vacation?


What worries you about the team, our plan, etc.?

What do you think will get in our way?

Where will we run into trouble?


What do you need to be at your personal best?

What will keep us from overreaching or burning out?

What rules or guidelines will help this team be the best?


If this goes incredibly well, what will be true?

How will you feel? Where will you be?

What will have shifted?

What do you want to be true for you, for me, for us?

In the last few months, we’ve trained over 1,000 people around the world in this method to talk about their tough topics. And it’s helping. Here are just a couple of comments from recent workshop participants:

That’s it!

Sit together, share your intentions, concerns, boundaries, and dreams together about a single topic. Want the deep dive? Go order our award-winning book, Radical Alignment.

It may feel weird to bring structure to what might be an emotional topic, but believe me, it works.

Try it!

Does your work team keep discussing the same problems over and over, but they never go away? Or worse, everyone complains about the team in private but can’t discuss problems in a constructive way as a group…

Our Radical Alignment Team Performance Toolkit will help you:

  • Get clear on the most essential missing conversations, and
  • Develop a clear actionable plan for having them.

You’ll receive:

  • Team Alignment Workbook
  • All-In Method Cheat Sheet
  • All-In Method Facilitation Guide
  • 5 Key Frameworks for Full Team Alignment

Is your team "nice" instead of effective?

Our Team Toolkit helps you deal with difficult topics with ease and create true collaboration.