How to make difficult conversations easy
Most of us could make a list of conversations that we find difficult.
Do any of these ‘usual suspects’ appear on your list?
- Pointing out to a colleague that their work isn’t up to scratch.
- Asking your mother to stop sharing her opinions about your life.
- Breaking up with a partner.
- Letting a colleague know that their habit of talking loudly in the office is distracting you from your work.
- Tackling your teenager’s habit of staying out far later than you have agreed.
- Telling your boss that you find their management approach over-bearing.
- Firing someone.
You may experience an interesting change in your mindset if you change the way you think about the conversation. If you label it as difficult, it’s likely to be a self-fulfilling prophesy. So, what happens if you focus on the positive changes you want to bring about rather than on the conversation itself?
Commonly used strategies range from ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away, to preparing a script so that you remember all the important points you want to make.
Here are some tips to help you successfully bring about the positive changes you are seeking:
- Spend some time visualising a really successful conversation with a good outcome. If you can imagine it going well, you’re half way there. There are some great resources online to develop your visualisation skills. Here are a couple you may like: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/242373 and http://www.clear-mind-meditation-techniques.com/mental-imagery-visualization.html
- If you find yourself delaying and making excuses not to have the conversation, force your hand by contacting the other person and agreeing a time to talk.
- Think through the conversation, and possibly make a few notes, but don’t over-prepare – it is a conversation, not a performance and you need to listen and respond, not just deliver your ‘script’.
- Consider what would be a good outcome from the conversation and identify any non-negotiables. Thinking about this in advance will help you to find a middle way during the conversation so that both parties can walk away feeling positive.
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