Most people do all that they can to avoid the hard conversations. This could be letting go of a staff member, letting someone go in a relationship, dealing with a complaint or legal case, or critics and haters. You don’t need me to tell you that the more you put them off, the worse and the bigger they get. They occupy more and more of your present frame of mind, robbing you of all happiness and mindfulness.
You can then take out this pent-up pain on others you live, which isn’t fair and isn’t you. Burying your head in the sand rarely if ever gets rid of the issue. You need to stand up to what you KNOW you have to do, stop putting it off, and deal with it head on.
Here are 10 points about having difficult conversations that should give them context and in many cases make them much easier:
You know some of these already, but to know and not to do is not to know, so just GO!
1. They are actually some of your best conversations
Strange as this may seem, this often true. You know how you feel when a huge weight that has been hanging over you for ages is lifted. You feel liberated, energised and can get on enjoying your life. It is often after our biggest challenges that we feel our greatest victories and elation. So see hard conversations this way, and you will enjoy them more, not necessarily because of the process but because of the result.
2. They will haunt you if you don’t have them
If you keep avoiding them, they will grow and get worse and worse. They will get worse in your head and you dream up the worst scenarios, and they will get worse in reality as the issue festers. There is no way around this, and to a large extent you are haunting yourself. Don’t let pride, fear of rejection or stubbornness get in the way of taking control and being the one to reach out and start the proves of the hard conversation.
3. Do them early in the day/timeline
Just like working out, you are more likely to tackle hard conversations early in the day when you have your best energy and enthusiasm. As the day moves on your get physically, emotionally and decision fatigued. It gets harder and harder to summon the will to tackle the issue. So set yourself up for success by tacking the call, meeting or communication head on, early.
4. Do not beat around the bush; get to the point
Once you start your hard conversation, get to the point. Waffle and small talk will not only drag it out, but you are more likely to bottle it too and not say what needs to be said. You will be tense, they will sense it, and it could get weird. You are there to do a job, which is to deal with the difficult situation effectively, efficiently and as elegantly as possible.
5. Virtually all of the hard conversations will not be as bad as you imagine
The longer you take to deal with the hard situations, the more time you have to imagine how bad they will be. Our brains have a natural leaning towards the negative, by as much as two or three times as much as positivity. You know all the scenarios you create in your mind, all the worst cases and arguments. Well the reality is rarely, if ever, the same as you dreamed it. You probably dreamt up some wild negative fantasies, and the more you dream them up the more real to you they become. So STOP.
6. Ever had an argument with someone…
…IN YOUR HEAD? Ha. Of course you have. We all have. How utterly nuts is that? To spend hours a day having a full-blown argument in your fantasy world. You might play out a full movie of how bad the situation gets, or you might let loose and say all the things you don’t have the courage to say face to face. Whatever way you visualise it, it IS NOT REAL. Let the reality show you what is real by dealing with it fast and head on.
7. The hard conversation will liberate you
Imagine how you feel when the problem has gone away. When the conflict has dissolved. It will be beautiful. So hold onto that thought and GET IT DONE. Not now, read the rest of this article, and then do it immediately. That thing you have been outing off. That thing that has grown into a monster. Go for it. You can do it.
8. Not always about pain and challenge
Often the hardest thing to say to someone is “I LOVE YOU”, or “thank you”, or “I’m sorry”. The hardest conversations for many are not about direct conflict but about showing emotion, being vulnerable, risking ridicule. I urge you to pick up the phone after this article and call someone you love, who you should have told a long time ago, and just tell them. Call up people you have fallen out with and tell them you are sorry for the way it played out, and that you remember all the good times. And thank them. Then feel amazing. Don’t wait for or expect others to do it.
9. Don’t be bullied
All this said, do not allow people to bully, dominate or walk all over you. This article is not about avoiding hard situations and conversations, but addressing and embracing them. You will have fights and fall outs, this can not be avoided. You can reduce them by not being a dick, but you will still have them no matter how much love you put out into the world. Even the Dalai Lama gets hate (watch the documentary about him on Netflix). What you can do is defend and stand up for yourself, have the occasional fall out that can’t be avoided, and then reconnect after time has moved on and water is mostly under the bridge. Again, this feels amazing and is a great gift not just for you but the person you reconnect with.
10. Be honest
The easy way out of hard conversations is to tell people what they want to hear. Or skirt around the subject. Or try to make them fell better. These might seem innocent, but there are lies that will make the situation much worse. These lies are easier in the moment, but discipline is doing and saying the things you know you should, even when you don’t feel like it. Honesty is almost always the right approach, with a dose of caring and respect.
No long conclusions. Simply follow these steps and go right now and ‘eat that frog’ and have those conversations you’ve been putting off. Let me know how you get on by posting your results here: https://www.facebook.com/robmooreprogressive