Why is the difficult conversation difficult? According to Dr. Henry Cloud, it’s because there are two opposing views. Also, our emotions are running sky high (go ahead and take your pulse before a tough conversation). There are also BIG THINGS at stake, “Honey, does my butt look fat in these jeans” is not a difficult conversation – it’s a trap! More likely a job is on the line or a loss of a relationship is at risk. And, according to Seth Godin, a difficult conversation is difficult because we have something important & tough to share with somebody and we want them to like us afterward.
Things to Remember when Having a Tough Conversation
There are a few things to remember when you have a tough conversation. If you can apply these tips, the talk should go a lot better.
First, make sure that your primary purpose for having the tough conversation is that you genuinely care for the other person, and be sure to communicate that. It will communicate that you respect them and that you care for them.
Second, reassure them that you desire to help the other person reach their goals and that you want to hear their concerns. A tough conversation is just that – a conversation. It should not be one-sided where you tell them what you think or want, there should be mutuality in the discussion.
Third, empathize with them and let them know you are aware of their emotions. You both will have strong emotions so, as best as you can, attune what they are feeling and let them know you understand their point of view (you don’t have to agree with it). (For practice with attuning, give me a call, I’d love to walk you through it).
Fourth, work with them on a solution to the problem. You probably have an idea of how to address the problem, after all, you have been putting this conversation off for a long time. Nevertheless, spend some time brainstorming the problem with them. You might be surprised at what additional ideas come out.
Don’t forget to roleplay. Roleplaying a difficult conversation is a great way to train your brain into working through tough conversations with confidence. Roleplaying is a mind hack because at the subconscious level the brain doesn’t know that this is not the real tough talk. A great way to roleplay is with a skilled life coach.
I would love to help you through that tough talk you have been putting off. Give me a call today and set up a session to work through your discussion.
Cloud, Dr. Henry (2020). Facing Challenges Well, Difficult Conversations. Growth Skills
Godin, Seth (2020). Difficult Conversation, Let’s Talk Akimbo. Akimbo Podcast, May 20, 2020. https://play.google.com/music/m/Dhp6urvhzffnpxq4s5ijp2xhzr4?t=Difficult_conversations-Akimbo_A_Podcast_from_Seth_Godin