We all face the prospect of having a difficult conversation every now and then. It may be talking to your partner about a sensitive topic, or confronting family and friends about things that make you unhappy. Maybe you need to have a difficult talk with your child’s school teacher, or you need to confront a neighbor about an issue. It may even be just negotiating your way out of a difficult situation or asking for a pay rise that is a challenge for you to discuss.
When we are alone, we know all the things that we want to say, but once we are faced with the moment of truth, it is easy to clam up and lose what could be an excellent opportunity to resolve an unpleasant situation.
Here are 5 tips for making difficult conversations a breeze.
1. Make A List
Is the conversation even worth having? Sometimes we react emotionally to a situation and need some time to reflect on the problem before shooting our mouth off. Making a list of things about how the conversation will improve the situation may show us if it is in fact going to make the issue better or worse.
2. Calm Down
Taking some time to assess the problem will allow you to stabilize your emotions. The best way to have a difficult conversation is to be level-headed and pragmatic. There is no point confronting someone when you are angry or upset. You can still communicate those feelings to them without making a scene and sabotaging the process of resolution.
3. Perfect Timing
It is best to have a difficult conversation with someone when you can both have discretion and give each other your full attention. If you are going to be distracted and interrupted, the message and possible solution is going to get lost in the chaos. You have all the time in the world. Don’t rush it. Pick your moment.
4. Be Assertive
Being assertive is not being aggressive, it’s being strong enough to stick to your argument and making sure you have your say. If you are interrupted and the person becomes defensive – wait. Give them the time to have their say, but then return to your own point of view. Assertive also does not mean stubborn. Sometimes, people have a valid reason for their behavior. Being open to change your mind and understand another person’s experience doesn’t make you weak; actually, it makes you the bigger person.
5. Take The Small Wins
Having a difficult conversation will not always give you the outcome you envisioned. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about communicating your feelings and perspective, and hopefully doing things better next time. A difficult conversation is always worth having, even if it is just to get things off your chest.
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