Ah, difficult conversations. Those conversations we want to avoid, be it our neighbors’ noisy parties or the Team Members who seem to have lost their fire. We fear the consequences, we are afraid it will not go well, we often end up “suffering in silence” rather than risk the conversation. However, unless we truly do completely release, we can build up a reservoir of resentment and frustration that at worst can explode at an inopportune moment and at best make the inevitable conversation all the more challenging.

Four quick tips below and for in-depth advice, I highly recommend “Difficult Conversations,” by Douglas Stone.

  • Speak up early (gently), often the longer you wait, the more entrenched behavior and feelings can become.
  • Accept that it may be a relationship/trust building process, perhaps an experimental one, that attempting to resolve immediately may be unrealistic and lead to dysfunctional impatience.
  • Acknowledge your emotions and the role they play. Emotions leak out as judgments, characterizations (stereotypes), or unfounded or partially-founded attributions. Get your heart right BEFORE you start the conversation. Practice with a third party if need be. If something is a trigger for you, have your practice buddy repeat the trigger until you are de-sensitized.
  • Deep listening is a very powerful yet underutilized tool of influence and persuasion.

Closing Quotes:

“Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.” – Margaret Wheatley

“You are not learning unless you are having difficult conversations.” – Gwyneth Parlow

“A person’s success in life can be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she are willing to have.” – Tim Ferris

“Don’t avoid difficult conversations for fear of loss. Nothing is gained through avoidance. While you may risk losing if you face it head-on, there is also the potential to gain everything, too.” – Melody Jean

“Because no matter how hard a conversation is, I know that on the other side lies peace. Knowledge. An answer delivered. Character revealed. Truces formed. Misunderstandings resolved.” – Shonda Rhimes

As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier