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How to Have Difficult Conversations in 5 Easy Steps

Jul 17, 2022

We've all had to have difficult conversations in life. It's a part of the human experience. But if you are the type of person who is convinced that avoiding difficult conversations is the best way, it could be hurting your relationships.

Does this sound like you?

  • I don't like conflict 
  • I avoid conflict at all costs
  • If a conflict comes up, I just ignore it or brush it to the side

Avoiding these difficult conversations can cost you in the long run. If you can think of having difficult conversations as a skill you can learn, you'll be on your way to better relationships. Uncomfortable conversations are a part of life.  

If you avoid difficult conversations at all costs, you just haven’t been taught the skill of having difficult conversations.
Here's what happens when you put off having a hard conversation. The problem does go away for a little while. But when the problem comes back around, it gets stronger. What happens to that pile of laundry when you put it off for days? It piles up into a big heap that takes half the day. Then you start to resent doing laundry.
There's a big price to pay for avoiding these types of conversations. The problem usually gets bigger, you say things you don't mean, and it leaves you feeling resentful.

5 easy steps to having difficult conversations

Before you start, plan ahead of time.

  1. Get very clear on the goal or outcome of the conversation. Get honest. If someone owes you money, for example, the goal of the conversation is to get your money back. If, however, your goal is for them NOT to be mad at you, you probably need to reconsider why you're having the conversation. You can't change the emotional state of another person.
  2. Coach yourself or get coaching around this situation until you feel the way you want to feel. Think about your tone and body language when you show up for this conversation. If you go into a conversation with anger and resentment, it shows up in your energy field.
  3. Get "Facty". Prepare so that you can state the facts. Make sure to leave your opinions at the door. This will help you have a less dramatic conversation.
  4. You're finally ready to have the conversation. Begin with acknowledging that it’s difficult. “I need to share something with you and it’s not going to be easy to hear and not easy to say but the relationship is important.” Share it out loud. State the facts. Share what the impact is. Share WHY this is a problem. On you, family, and others involved. 
  5. Choose your most ideal emotion no matter HOW they responded. There's a 50/50 chance that they'll be upset. Choose how you'll respond. I like to choose the emotions of concern, confusion, or curiosity if they respond with negative emotions.
    What would your relationships be like and look like if you got really good at having hard conversations?
    What would change in your life if you weren’t afraid to have difficult conversations?
    You can practice these steps at work, with your spouse, your mama, your in-laws, or with friendships. This process works in any situation.
    If these tools, this way of looking at the drama with your mama resonates with you, I want to invite you to schedule your free consultation with me.  Let's talk about it.