Difficult Conversations

Lately I've noticed that there are two predominant, yet highly disappointing and futile, methods of dealing with difficult conversations among many adults. The first, is to yell, dig in, and state your firm, unwavering position. The second is to avoid it altogether and develop a story in one's own mind as to how horrible things are, how they got so horrible, and how they'll never get back to good again, whatever the case maybe. Newsflash: neither of these work. 

Whether it's our digital lives or our protective human instincts that are curtailing our ability to communicate, difficult conversations need to be had. They're necessary at work, at home, at school, wherever you have something at stake. And here's the big secret, once you start these so-called "difficult" conversations, they're actually not that bad! 

Since everyone is either yelling or avoiding and narrating often vitriolic, one-sided conversations in their heads, being the one to buck these trends and actually communicate turns out to put you in a great position.

This is a widespread issue and varies widely based on subject matter, the people involved, and the context, so this is something that I'll revisit again and again. But for now, a few tips to remember if you're thinking about taking a leap and having that difficult conversation: 

  • Just do it. Letting negative feelings fester won't do anyone or any situation any good, so the first step is to convince yourself to start the conversation. 
  • Stay calm. This might mean that you have to wait a few days (or weeks) to arrive at a point where calmness is an option. So wait and when the time comes, then embark. 
  • Be honest, be open. As the adage goes, "There are two sides to every story." Wrapped up in our egotistical worlds, we forget this, even though we've heard it a million times. Life is filled with many more grey areas than black and white ones, so allow yourself to know that your story is one side and there is another side to which you should listen as well.