Have you ever felt like you needed to say something but just kept quiet instead?
Maybe you kept quiet because you:
- Weren’t sure whether it was worth saying anything
- Didn’t know how to say what you wanted to
- Were worried about the repercussions of saying something
If you said yes to any of the above, you’re not alone.
Navigating difficult conversations has been a recurring theme amongst many of my coaching clients this past week (myself included)….
And I thought I’d share a framework to support you in having those difficult conversations (more on that in a minute).
When it comes to voicing our thoughts and opinions, not just in our personal and professional lives but on social media too…it can be normal to doubt whether to express ourselves + how to do so in a way that’s constructive and meaningful.
We’re living in a time where there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world and it can be challenging to navigate global topics like….
The 2020 presidential campaign in the US, Brexit and the new PM in the UK, the extradition bill here in Hong Kong, or the political landscape in Australia — plus a whole heap of otherworldly topics that I fully appreciate I haven’t noted here but are equally as valid and as important.
The discord we see in the world around us can get us talking about more taboo topics…like politics, money, religion and sex…bringing in the need to navigate difficult conversations that are charged, tricky and fiery.
It can also be equally as challenging to navigate more personal and local topics like…
….how to address a team member who’s not performing and letting the team down.
….losing that chemistry or spark with a partner.
….dealing with a friend who more often than not bails on you last minute.
As a number 9 on the enneagram (aka the peacemaker) having difficult conversations is something that I’ve had to practice and lean into. BIG TIME.
It’s not comfortable for me. I’m still learning.
Listen to this week’s blog to learn the 4 keys to navigating difficult conversations.
Short on time? Read on for the transcript.
Firstly, just rest assured that if you’re reading or listening to this, you’re not alone.
Many of us haven’t been taught how to manage difficult conversations in a way that is constructive, positive and rejuvenating.
And let’s be honest…finding good role models in this department…isn’t always easy!
It’s important to talk about how to navigate difficult conversations because the truth of the matter is that they are a part of life, whether we like it or not.
Without handling difficult conversations we can often find ourselves in even more trouble.
It can be so easy to let things slide…holding the frozen tension in our bodies….until things fester and bubble over and an outburst happens at a less-than-ideal time.
Have you ever experienced this?
When the fire is unleashed and the anger is received in a not-quite-so-ideal-way …which is normally after a small, no big deal trigger.
Navigating difficult conversations apply to both your professional and personal life…
In your professional life this can look like:
- Managing a team member
- Speaking up to your boss
In your personal life this can look like:
- Being vulnerable with your partner about a behaviour that you’re not OK with
- Calling a friend out for being insensitive
Regardless of whether we’re entering a professional or personal conversation that’s difficult …it’s super normal for the ego to want to:
- Pipe up
- Prove it’s worth
- Prove it’s right
- Prove it’s a point
It can be a challenging process when you’re in a difficult conversation to keep your cool and stay grounded and not personally attack the person you’re talking to….
Because the ego will use any means necessary, especially when provoked, in order to get the point across.
So when you’re navigating difficult conversations I invite you to remember 4 key things to support you in handling it in a way that feels good and right by you.
1. Do you need to say something?
Some things need to be said. Some things are better left unsaid.
Before continuing a difficult conversation take a moment to breathe (3 deep breaths is typically all you need!)
Take a moment to discern between whether you are reacting and defending vs. being in your power. These are two very different things.
So how do you do this?
Bring to mind the tension-causing situation that’s present right now. Close down your eyes and feel your response to the situation. What is present in YOUR body? Then ask, “Do I need to express anything to X person here?” and notice your response.
Cultivating sensitivity to your body’s truth is THE key ingredient to staying in your integrity around difficult conversations and keeping your cool whilst having them.
Side note: If you need personal support in this, I’m opening up 3 spots in my 1:1 Soul Aligned Woman Program and you apply for more information + schedule your call to explore it with me HERE.
2. What is the intention behind this conversation?
Very often it can be easy to keep a dialogue going…tit for tat until you don’t realise that you are reacting as opposed to being strategic in why you’re having a difficult conversation in the first place.
Spend a little bit of time, before engaging in a dialogue or conversation, to clarify your intentions behind having the conversation in the first place.
Let’s look at an example:
At work, let’s say you need to have a conversation with a team member who’s not performing well and letting the team down.
Before entering that conversation, ask yourself, “what is the intention behind this conversation?”
- Is it to offload?
- Is it to point out what’s not working?
- Is it to figure out whether this person is the right person for the role?
Getting clear on your intention will help you get grounded in the outcome you’re looking for – without getting lost in the minutia and tit for tat that can happen when having a difficult (and franky sometimes awkward) conversation.
3. Seek to understand the other person.
So often we go into a conversation wanting to simply share our own points of view, trying to prove or defend ourselves.
That energy or intention is picked up from the other party from the get-go and doesn’t allow for an open conversation where both parties feel heard.
Before engaging in another person….go into the conversation with a desire to understand the other person. Their points of view, what’s going on for them, what their thinking is….
Being genuinely curious about another person will allow you to have a more open dialogue and increase the chances for a more fruitful outcome.
4. Create a plan
Before engaging in a difficult conversation spend a little time getting clear on:
- What specifically do you want to communicate?
- What is the desired outcome?
- How can you structure the conversation in a fruitful way?
Understanding the person you’re speaking to, how they can be more receptive to the message, how can you bring love and compassion to the conversation can be really helpful.
This will give you a bit of clarity and confidence — so you’re not waffling or backtracking in the conversation.
Before engaging in a difficult conversation remember to:
- Ask yourself: Do I need to say something?
- Get clear on the intention behind this conversation
- Seek to understand the other person
- Create a plan
What if the conversation doesn’t go well? Ruh-oh!
Navigating difficult conversations is not easy.
We are hardwired to belong. We don’t want to be cut off or ostracised.
At the same time, our ego wants to defend and make sure we’re right.
Just remember that everyone is doing the best that they can (yes really, check out Brene Brown’s research into this).
Sometimes people make a wrong decision, sometimes people are going through a hard time, sometimes people don’t know how to communicate properly — you never know what’s going on behind closed doors.
So rather than judging, feeling anxious or dreading difficult conversations. …I invite you to see them as an opportunity to deepen a relationship with another person.
If all goes well, your connection will deepen and you will foster a sense of trust, greater understanding and in turn more heartfelt connection.
If not, and you disagree, that’s OK too.
So often we hold onto relationships, friendships, and partnerships that don’t serve us. It’s OK to let a relationship lose its closeness and intimacy or in some case lovingly end and complete. Not all relationships are forever!
Yes, I appreciate it can be hard.
But freeing up the energetic capacity to focus on those you love and truly care about and can be open and vulnerable with to share your heartfelt truths in a loving and compassionate way — can be so much rich, rewarding and nourishing for both sides of the relationship.
After all, isn’t that who you want in your life?
Before you go…
Give yourself a pat on the back that you’re leaning into these difficult conversations in a way that stands up for you, your boundaries — in a loving, kind and compassionate and respectful way too.
That’s the kind of world I would love to see more of.
Remember: There’s no one in the world who can do what you do the way you do it. Keep being yourself. Keep fumbling forward to play with it, get it wrong and pick yourself back up.
If you need support around navigating difficult conversations and standing firm in who you are and what you want from your life and career, I’m opening up the doors to the Soul Aligned Woman Experience. The program is my application only and you can do that + schedule your call with me HERE.
Now I want to hear from you:
- What difficult conversations are you facing in your life?
- Are they in your personal or work life?
Leave a comment or send me an email. I’d love to know 🙂
P.S. If you need support around navigating difficult conversations and standing firm in who you are and what you want from your life and career, I’m opening up the doors to the Soul Aligned Woman Experience. The program is my application only and you can do that + schedule your call with me HERE.