For many of us the idea of having a difficult conversations make us feel like we are going to break out in hives. Most of us would say we don’t like conflict and that we don’t want to have hard conversations. That being said, sometimes the conversations can’t be avoided. Here is how you can successfully have a difficult conversation:
Be strategic about the time and place.
Don’t have a difficult conversation when you are: hungry, angry, tired or lonely. Make sure that you are in a safe place to have the conversation and preferably where the conversation won’t be constantly interrupted. Make sure that the time is good for the other person as well - consider their state of mind when decided when to broach the topic.
Be calm and clear.
Depending on the type of conversation, you may feel yourself start to get emotional. Do your best to stay calm and focused on the topic at hand. Be clear with the other person for why you are bringing up this topic and how you hope to move forward.
Even if the topic or conversation is contentious, consider trying a cooperative approach. How can the conversation end in a way that is helpful to both parties? If it can’t, what is the best possible outcome for both parties?
Expect a positive response.
If you go into the conversation expecting it to go terribly, you will likely be on guard or seem defensive. Imagine the best possible outcome in your mind. Go into the conversation expecting that the person will be pleasant and cooperative. This will help with both nerves and defensiveness.
Measure actions not outcomes
The win of having a difficult conversation is not how the other person responds or even the outcome of the conversation. The win of the difficult conversation is the bravery it takes to initiate such a conversation. Consider it a win that you’ve taken a risk and had a hard conversation!
If approaching conflict is difficult for you, consider making an appointment with one of our counselors. Call 706.310.9046 now to make an appointment and learn how more about how to handle conflict.