Communication Skills

5 Tips to have the best difficult conversation of your life

“I just can’t confront anyone. It makes me sick to just think about it and truly it’s easier for me to just work around them,” said a mid-level manager the other day.

Most likely you guessed the manager is female. And you’d be right. Time and again, women (and enough men, too) sabotage their own success by thinking they have to confront someone.

A confrontation, people think, is a negative thing. You’d be right again.

The last thing that I would ever recommend is a confrontation. But a conversation about a tough topic… why not?

5 Tips to have the best difficult conversation of your life

#1. Change the backstory. Forget the past and consider that the other person wants to have a meaningful conversation with you. Most likely his/her life isn’t a bed of roses either and yes, it’s very possible that you’ve been misinterpreting their intent, too. Start fresh. Put the idea into your head that this person would like – would LOVE – to have a more productive, pleasing and successful relationship.

#2. Replace the word confrontation with conversation. That’s all you’re having. A conversation about a tough situation. An easy way to begin then is to speak your truth, “Hi Name, I’ve been thinking about and I’ve put off having a conversation with you and I’m sorry that I’ve waited (you can add, because now, I’m a bit <nervous, stressed, frustrated, angry>. I know you want best results too so I’m wondering if we can talk about the future, now.

#3. Be clear in what you want to achieve from the conversation. Hint: If you really believe you are not guilt-less, then what you may want to understand is what the other person is thinking/doing so that the two of you can find a common, comfortable solution.

#4. Don’t delay. “Screw your courage to the sticking post” as Lady Macbeth would say and ask yourself these questions to motivate action:
• What is the price I pay for not having this conversation?
• What can I gain by having the conversation?

#5. Become self-aware. For the fun of it, here is another question and a half to ask yourself:
•What strategies am I using in an attempt to change their behavior anyway? How’s that workin’ for me?

How would you start this conversation? Try these tips and tell us your results. Start with heart!