“I can’t wait to have that difficult conversation,” said no one, ever. Facing the “difficult conversation” ranks up there with going to the dentist for a root canal. Which is why so many people avoid it.
Whether it be firing someone whom you realize is not a good fit for your team, telling someone that the partnership is not working out and it is time to go your separate ways, or telling someone something they don’t want to hear – the conversation is dreadful at best and cause for anxiety at worst.
So, here’s my question; why? Why do we avoid the hard conversation? There are many reasons. For example;
- We don’t have the confidence to navigate the difficult conversation
- We don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings
- We want people to like us and fear they might retaliate
- We are afraid of being vulnerable
- We hope if we ignore the situation it will go away
- We’re attached to outcome
- We’re not quite sure of how we feel or don’t know how or what to express
- We live in a culture that does not honor and support the expression of difficult emotions in a healthy way
But the problem never goes away. In fact, it only gets worse, because no one is talking about the elephant in the room. And we go on with our day as if all is A-okay, when in reality, we know it’s not.
Bottom line, having difficult conversations is H.A.R.D. But I’d like to put a positive spin on this and show you how forging ahead can create opportunity for personal growth and deeper connection to self and others.
Let’s start with the premise that relationship to self and others is of the highest priority.
Are you with me?
What I mean is that to live in integrity with yourself, you must be committed to living and working in a more conscious way. That means that you must make the clarity and quality of your relationship to yourself and others a priority. And that requires work, risk and courage.
So, let’s lay down the H.A.R.D conversation:
H: Heart – When we drop into our emotions and get connected to how we are feeling about something or someone, we open up opportunities for understanding rather than blaming, judging, or criticizing.
A: Attitude – As we open the conversation and move it towards resolution, it empowers us to take on an attitude of collaboration rather than competition.
R: Reconcile – Once we have opened a channel for understanding, we can then move towards reconciliation rather than staying stuck in resentment, grief and anger.
D: Do Over – The beauty of work and life is that there will always be another opportunity to have those difficult conversations because as long as we engage with other humans, there’s always another occasion to practice that HARD conversation muscle.
So, the next time you are faced with initiating that difficult conversation, here’s what I want to encourage you to do; spend some time getting clear about how you feel, think about the outcome you want and ask yourself how you can format the conversation in such a way that it’s a win-win for all parties involved.
Be committed to listening, too. Ask questions. When people feel like they are being heard, validated, and acknowledged, there’s a much better chance for success and for positive outcome. And then I want you to rinse and repeat.
You’ve got this! I am rooting for you.