3 ways to prepare for a difficult conversation

When Jackie suggested difficult conversations as a weekly topic I didn’t perk up with excitement. While I agree that it’s an important topic, I’ve never thought of having difficult conversations as one of my strengths. In fact, given the chance, I’d happily not have a difficult conversation at all.

But they’re important.

Not only does having a hard conversation mean you’re a grown up, it means you’re stepping up to your potential and helping someone else step up to theirs as well.

So I got to thinking, and I realized why does it have to be so difficult?

We always hear about having difficult conversations, tough talks or delivering bad news but what if we reframed how we thought about it?

What if we looked at it as having a productive conversation or a learning conversation? Our  goal simply to discuss the issue and arrive at a solution.

Walking into a conversation in this frame of mind will shift your energy. Perhaps you’re feeling victimized or angry. It’s hard to doing anything positive from this state of mind.

However, walking into a conversation knowing there is an opportunity for growth (for both you and the other person), the possibility of positive change or true collaboration changes the dynamic significantly.

So the next time the opportunity (see, we are reframing it already!) to have a constructive (yup, did it again!) conversation comes up, try one of these (or even better all!) three things:

#1. Before you have the conversation, get your mind wrapped around it. 

Write down how you’re feeling about this conversation and then see how you can reframe the thoughts and feelings.

For example, “I’m really angry that my co-worker didn’t provide me with the analysis she was doing on time, now I’m going to have to scramble. She’s so inconsiderate!!!!!”

Turn this into “I’m really angry that I didn’t get the analysis on time. And I have every right to feel upset because now I need to scramble and I may miss my kid’s soccer game. But going in there and ripping in to her isn’t going to be productive. Maybe she had something going on or someone was late in giving her what she needed, which created a domino effect.”

OK -- you’ve give yourself some space to see this situation a little differently. Now, when you go in there you can state the facts and what it created for you and you can ask what happened in a genuine and curious way so that you can problem-solve.

#2. Be mindful of what’s going on in your body.

If your heart is still racing from anger or your hands are shaking from nerves, you need to calm your system down.

Taking a breather, talking it through and practicing with a trusted, non-involved friend, working with a coach, all of these things can help you release the lower levels of energy that are showing up in your body as the racing heart or shaky hands. 

When you’re able to release this energy and step into a calmer, more assured energy level this shows up in your body as presence and confidence. It allows you to take the control of the conversation and lead it to a positive outcome.

#3. Use some tried and true communication techniques.

Take the advice from the people who are trained and educated in managing these kinds of conversations.

You’ll learn how to have the conversation without defensiveness, manage your emotions, listen to the meaning instead of getting caught up in a story, be persuasive.

Two books I recommend are Difficult Conversations and Crucial Conversations. They are worth adding to your library!

Becoming skilled in having these conversations is well worth the time and effort. Practice will make them natural and you’ll see where you can start to have them on a more regular basis, ultimately better supporting your needs.

So what conversation do you need to have that you may be putting off? Tell us in the comments or respond to this email so we can help walk you through.

To your magnificence!

XO Jackie+ Mimi

SAVE THE DATE! The Resting Mind: Surviving Burnout Workshop, Saturday June 1st at 1:30 at Oyster Bay Yoga. Save your spot here!

Marissa Bishop