Four Concepts for Difficult Conversations


I have been observing several clients who were procrastinating on difficult conversations with their colleagues, team members or family.  They had a deep dread of what might happen during these conversations (Hint: they are worried they might not be able to keep control of the communication).


I have worked on this topic so much during my life as I’m a recovering people-pleaser and didn’t like upsetting others. I now see it as one of my superpowers.  As a coach, you have to be willing to ask the tough questions of people (gently of course) and get the response that you get.


These four concepts are what comes out in my recent interactions with people around difficult conversations:


My reason

Do you like your reason for raising the topic? Does it come from a place of nurturing or achieving a goal which is agreed or necessary? Sometimes we need to own whether we are doing something to salve our wounds and needs or creating boundaries or providing feedback in a useful way to give others perspective.


A conversation which is coming from anger, shame, guilt or resistance will be visible. Suppose we are compassionate for all parties in the conversation and like our reasons? We will be transparent in our language and actions.


When you have your reason clear, think about how you want the words you say to come out.  Some prior effort in approaching the conversation does help.


Me not them

The other party in any conversation is going to act according to what they feel, think or believe. Their reaction to anything you say will come from their thoughts, not from how they are thinking about you.  We often think that everything others do must be related to something we did right or wrong.  Not so – it’s about what they believe is right or wrong.  People think about us a lot less than we assume.


Choose what you want to think and believe.  Don’t try to anticipate what the other party will think of you.


I only control me

We think that if we try hard enough and put all the right words together and be super persuasive that we can control other people.  Nope, never going to happen as you expect, because they have different thoughts and beliefs.  See “me not them.”

Be curious

If you stay entirely curious about what the other person has to say and remain this way for the whole conversation, you will be surprised by two things:

You might gain a new perspective that makes you think differently

There will be an atmosphere of appreciation for being heard and much more willingness from the other party to listen to what you have to say


If you would like some help preparing for difficult conversations, please get in touch.  It might be an excellent topic for one of our complimentary discovery sessions.









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