How to have difficult conversations


Relationships bring us our greatest joy in life and our greatest frustrations. If you are in a relationship, of any type, there are going to be times you face difficult conversation. In any relationship be it business, family, employer/employee, friend, intimate partner, trades person, the list goes on and on, you will face times you need to have difficult conversations. Even the most quite and passive of people, in life, will find themselves faced with tough conversations. These conversations don't have to end badly however, in fact if done right they can and will strengthen the relationship. We all know in business that when something goes wrong it is not necessarily what went wrong but how it was handled. Difficult conversation can lead to your strongest bonds. Here are some tips on how to make them a little easier.


1. Seek first to understand the other person. It is far too common that we ourselves want to explain our side get people to let them see where we are coming from. But guess what? The other person wants that too. If you can first listen to the other person, really and truly seeking to understand where they are coming from you may gain a new perspective. To understand where the other person is coming from does not mean you have to agree with them. You can seek to understand without agreeing. At the very least, once they feel they have been heard they are now in a position where they can actually hear you and what you are saying instead of rehearsing in their mind what they want to say to you.


2. Don't take anything personally. Chances are that whatever the other person is feeling has stemmed from something long before you came into the picture. We don't always even know or understand ourselves why certain things trigger us (or THAT certain things trigger us) but they do. When in a difficult conversation you need to realize it is not about you and NOT to take it personally. Once you realize this it will also make you a much better listener and you will be better equipped to resolve the situation. If you do start to feel yourself getting worked up, set back, count to 10 and take 3 deep breaths.


3. Come to a positive conclusion. The word conclusion does not mean you have to agree. Remember most of the time people just want to feel heard and understood. This alone will diffuse a situation. Then you can come to a resolution that works for everyone. It is important to put the issue to rest so that it does not come up again, or come to an agreement on how to handle it if it should happen in the future.

Difficult conversations are as they are described, difficult. However, to honest and authentic relationships difficult conversations are going to happen and can't be avoided. Don't be passive aggressive and don't triangulate (bringing in a third person to pass along a message because you don't want to face them). These only make situations worse. Maintain a respectful position, be honest and true.