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A simple approach to difficult conversations

The SCORE approach teaches you how to break up your conversation into five short parts.

Watch the video lesson here

The score approach 

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To help illustrate how to use the SCORE approach we will walk through a story about Connor.

Connor had been in his new role as a software engineer for a few weeks. His leader had noticed he was consistently arriving to work late, and leaving early. Here is how his team leader used the SCORE approach to handle the conversation.


S - Situation

Clearly describe the situation in as few words as possible.


"Connor, I’ve noticed that you are regularly arriving to work late and leaving early."


C - Concern

Explain your concern, ask questions, and be empathetic.


“My concern is that you may not be working your hours. Is everything okay with you? Is there anything going on for you that I can help you with or should know about?”

Connor explained that public transport was taking longer than he expected. He also had a new baby at home and his wife finding that challenging. So, he didn’t want to leave home early and get home late.


O - Options

Offer options, ask for their ideas, together select a path forward.


“Connor, I can think a few options for us to consider moving forward. If you’d rather reduce your hours for a while until the baby settles, we can work that out.  Otherwise, if would rather try working from home for a few days a week, we can try that out and see if saving on travel time will help you fit your hours in more comfortably, and that also means you’ll be a bit more present at home to support your partner. Or is there another approach you think might suit you and your family more?”


Connor liked the second option the most, so that's the one he went with.


R - Risk

In a caring way, explain the risk to the person if the situation isn’t resolved.


“I would hate for anyone in the team to think you weren’t putting in the same effort as everyone else. Your reputation is important to me. Would you feel comfortable if we let the team know you’ll be working from home so you can support your partner more with the new baby and save on travel time?”


Connor agreed that it was important for the team to understand the reasons why he would be working from home.


E - Expectation

Set clear expectations moving forward.


“Thanks for your time. From next week you can work from home for a few days a week. Let's keep it this way until things are more settled for you. We can let the team know of our plan tomorrow, and I’ll check back in with you about how things are going in a couple of weeks.”


And there you have it. Using SCORE a tricky conversation was handled quickly and comfortably, with a good outcome and clear expectations.