Tips for managing tough conversations

Approaching a sensitive subject in conversation can be very difficult. Whether it’s an argument with a friend or a long-standing conflict with a family member, gaining the right skills to manage these types of conversation could prove a very productive thing for you to do.

Tips for managing tough conversations

Here are six tips that can help you communicate without creating any more drama.

1. Set an intention

Before you start the conversation, make sure you know what your intention is. Focus upon it and write it down if you have to. Preparation is key to a positive conversation.

2. Be careful about your tone

If you are initiating the talk, be careful how you approach it. If your tone comes across as negative or defensive, it can start the conversation off on the wrong foot. Try to be calm – you could always start a conversation with, “I need to have an honest conversation with you.”

3. Recognise that convenience matters to both parties

Ask the other person, “Is this a good time?” This simple question can diffuse any negative feelings, letting the other party know that you are considering their time constraints as well as your own.

4. Slow the conversation down

Give the person enough time to respond. If you hear their full story, you might see that their interpretation of the conflict is totally different from yours.

5. Refrain from assumptions

Don’t go into the argument assuming they are “a liar or a cheater” – here you would be characterising their whole identity. Even if you know for a fact they cheated and lied, you need to localise the conversation to address the topic without making things worse.

6. Practise

If there’s a lot at stake, you may want to run through the conversation with a close friend or family member. Try to envisage both the best and worst case scenarios so you can prepare yourself for each eventuality. You will be able to mentally prepare yourself and get feedback on your language choice, tone and so on.

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Written by Ross East

Written by Ross East

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