Being able to have hard conversations isn’t something that comes naturally to most people, in actually fact, according to research, about 80% of the population do, so if this sounds like you, you’re defiantly not alone.
However, if we don’t learn how to have them, it's possible we'll end up with dysfunctional relationships both personally and professionally. And if you’re not avoiding these conversations then you may be having them poorly, so it’s about time we learnt the secret to mastering them.
Words by YK Daily's resident life coach Amira Mansour @the_communicationexpert
You may have the best reasons as to why you’re not having these types of conversations. Maybe it’s because you’re worried you’ll hurt the other person’s feelings, or maybe you think you’re coming across too harshly. Perhaps it’s because you think you will be judged, or even worse, the other person won’t like you for having the conversation. Or have you already tried to have the conversation but it didn’t go well, or the other person didn’t react well to what you had to say?
Before we get into the tools that are going to transform the way you have these types of conversations, let’s consider the best way to prepare for them before you even find yourself in a situation where you’re simply not sure what to say…
What’s Your Intention?
Be honest and ask yourself why do you want to have this conversation. What are you hoping to achieve by saying something? Is it because you want to vent and get it off your chest, or is it because you truly want to change the relationship with this person?
What Assumptions Are You Making?
You’re entitled to feel what you feel. However, be aware of the emotions arising. Did they intentionally want to hurt or offend you? Could it be that they may not be aware of the impact something they’ve said or done has on you?
What’s Triggering You?
Let’s be honest about the role your emotions play when you’re in a heightened state. Are you feeling triggered because it reminds you of a previous situation that hasn’t resolved? Does it remind you of something similar growing up where you didn’t feel heard or seen?
How Is Your Mindset Influencing Your Perception?
If you keep approaching it as though it’s confrontation, this is the energy and frequency you’re going to bring to the conversation. Instead, approach it with the mindset that it’s simply a conversation not an argument. It’s an opportunity to share what’s important for you and hopefully create a deeper connection at the same time.
What Do You Need & Fear?
Be honest about what you need from this conversation, and also the fears that are holding you back. Are you worried you’ll lose the relationship as a result of having this conversation, or does it have your stomach in knots at the thought of saying anything at all?
Now you’ve gone through your preparation checklist, here's what's going to make you a master at having these types of conversations?
Take A Timeout
Sometimes we fear that we have to resolve hard conversations there and then. But when we’re caught off guard we may react in a way that we later regret, so don’t be afraid to take a timeout. Consider removing yourself from the conversation to cool down. This allows you space to reflect and check in with yourself. If it’s bothering you is it because this is something that’s come up before, or is it because you are not feeling heard or understood? From here you can revert back to the reason why the conversation is important and the outcome that you'd like.
Deal With Confrontation
You aren’t in control of how other people are going to react, but you do have the power over how you choose to respond and engage. In the moment this can be one of the hardest things to master, because you respond from the primitive part of your brain that’s automatic. If someone’s getting confrontational with you, don’t respond in the same way. Acknwoledge how they’re feeling and ask yourself how you can show that you see and hear them.
One of the reasons we experience conflict and miscommunication is because of the filters we have of the world. Having conflict (despite what you may think) isn’t a bad thing. There’s a certain element that’s needed as humans in order to find new ways of doing things, brainstorming and being able to understand someone’s perspective without having to agree. Mastering hard conversations doesn’t mean that you escape any conflict, but what it does mean is that you’re willing to listen to the other person.
One way people go wrong is by failing to share what the other person is or isn’t doing, or how they’ve contributed to how you feel. If you want to be able to have hard conversations and get the desired outcome, this means fully taking ownership of how you feel. Imagine the possibilities if you can own the reasons you’re having the conversation, the impact it’s having on you and how you want to do things differently?
A frequently asked question is how to start a hard conversation. Here are some options to take and tweak into your own words so it feels authentic to you:
I’d like to talk about [insert topic], have you got time today?
I think we’ve got different perceptions. Let’s discuss this as I’m keen to hear your thoughts.
We keep getting into this situation. Let’s talk and see if we can find a different way of doing things.
I’ve been reflecting on [insert thing] and would like to share my thoughts with you.
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