Having difficult conversations is something we all wish we could avoid forever. Whether its having to negotiate, break up, or admit to a mistake – dealing with tough talks just makes us want to scream “Dibs, not me!”
Unfortunately, having difficult conversations is a natural part of growth. Even if it speeds up our heartbeats to a thousand beats per minute, leaves our knees trembling, and our palms sweating — it’s something we eventually have to learn. So instead of avoiding it like the plague, come prepared.
Here’s what you can do before, during, and after difficult conversations to have the best possible outcome. You’re welcome!
As any important engagement, preparation is key! If you know you’re bound to have a difficult conversation with someone, here are 3 questions, you should ask yourself.
“What are my true motives?”
Human nature makes us jump on defense mode when friction arises. So before having a difficult conversation – make sure you are in a sense of level headedness to see and understand the bigger picture. What is the best solution? And is it fair to the people involved?
“Why does this conversation feel uncomfortable to me?”
A big factor to consider when getting into difficult conversations is the reason it’s “difficult.” Often, there is a conflict of interest, a fear of judgement, or an external reason that makes us feel uncomfortable. Mel Robbins tells us that the secret to getting through difficult conversations is learning to “untangle your emotions from the matter at hand.”
Why do you feel what you feel? Are there other contributing factors outside the situation? Is there history adding to the fire? Is there a bigger issue at hand? Asking yourself these questions make big differences when preparing for difficult conversations.
“What are the clear-cut facts?”
When dealing with a tricky situation, it’s important to learn the Art of Compartmentalization. It’s crucial to separate your assumptions from what’s actually happening.
When we’re nervous, we tend to assume things based on how it made us feel and not based on what really happened.
i.e: When we see a friend who didn’t say “Hi!” back to us in the mall, some people assume something is wrong when that friend could’ve totally missed you.
The point is, before getting into a difficult conversation – prepare facts supporting your line of reason. Doing this allows you to remember what you want to say, but also keeps your conversation direct and resolvable.
Even professional speakers feel jittery when having to discuss sensitive matters. Here are 3 things to remember:
- Be open-minded
- Watch your language
- Practice on a friend
Now that you’re in the right mindset, here’s a brief outline of what to do while having that difficult conversation. Thanks, Mel Robbins!
Conflicts are almost always caused by more than one person. And acknowledging your role in the situation, shows you’re not playing the blame game. This diffuses the height of emotions during the conversation.
Taking responsibility over your part shows people you respect them and are coming from a place of concern not demand.
When high emotions come up, having a defined goal comes in handy! This will keep the tone and intention of the talk constantly aligned with the goal.
When you have a goal in mind, it’ll be easier to keep coming back to it.
Listen & validate
The most important part of having difficult conversations is listening. A conversation is meant to be an open exchange of thoughts among people. To ensure that you are both on the same page, make the effort to really listen to where the other person is coming from and try to understand their side.
Instead of focusing on who is right or wrong, acknowledge that you are both coming from very valid points. When people feel heard, they put down their walls.
Make it a practice not to interrupt anyone as they’re speaking.
To conclude, do a quick run down to make sure you covered all relevant points and have fairly come to a conclusion that will resolve the situation.
Now that you’ve gone through the whole process of having difficult conversations, make sure you follow through.
Did you reach the intended end goal? If not, how do you feel about the new outcome?
Once, you’ve resolved the situation, follow through in writing. Depending on the nature of your relationship with the person you are speaking with, you can text or email a brief summary of what was discussed. Doing this reminds all the people involved of what was agreed upon and the actions following that.
Lastly, the best way to communicate change is through action. Show you are willing to make the changes you spoke about, and people in turn, will do the same.
There you go! You are ready to face your next difficult conversation. Growing up has a lot of transitions in for you, so be sure to check out our content over at Grown-up guide on the Edukasyon.ph site!