Can you recollect a recent difficult conversation that you had? How did it feel? It must have felt like a gush of emotions – anger, anxiety, guilt, confusion. None of these are healthy emotions and imagine what they do to your body and mind. There has to be a way to handle difficult conversations. Following are a few points that facilitate this handling. All these points concern only you and have no bearing on the other person with whom you are conversing.
Here calmness is needed at three levels –
- In mind
- In choice of words and
- In gestures and expressions
This helps you balance the negative emotions that tend to overpower you at the time of such conversations. Calmness keeps your mind and body healthy despite the gravity of the situation. Also, you attain a position of respect in the eyes of the others. They may not always admit the same but regardless it holds true.
Difficult conversations have a background that usually concern past and future events. In most of the cases you have either suffered in the past and kept patience or you foresee trouble in the future and feel anxious. This leads you into starting the conversation. While you refer to these events to make your case stronger, be pragmatic.
A subtle mention of your feelings and focusing on facts helps in holding a confident conversation. Facts make it easier to get the other person on the same level of thought.
The other person is as powerful as you are and at the same time as affected. Empathy enables you to hear the other side. It lets you accept the other’s perspective. You never know if you have done wrong unintentionally.
Do not try to demean or dominate over their feelings because you can never force a person to feel your way. It is their own choice. A compassionate conversation makes it possible to find a mid -way out where both the parties have something to take away.
Progress happens in consensus. Progress is a product of mutual understanding. Progress is seen when you keep the bigger picture in mind. In both personal and professional areas, a progressive mindset creates a positive vibe at the time of a difficult conversation. It eliminates the vice of self- centeredness and changes the course of an otherwise bitter conversation.
If you think that handling diplomatically will hide your internal chain of thoughts, then you are mistaken. Even with average intelligence a person can see from where you are coming. This point lies at the core of making a tough conversation easy.
I deliberately kept this for the end. To initiate and to conclude a difficult conversation, you need courage. Courage to face the consequences physically and emotionally. Many times, it happens that you are about to confront and you tame down. You rehearse how you will approach, and you turn around. Why? Due to lack of courage. Have the courage to see it through the end and also have the courage to change course if you were wrong.
Difficult conversations are a part of life. Shying away from holding them is not a solution. The next time you have to give a negative employee feedback, or tell your partner about your individual growth plans, or approach your boss with a better alternative try to keep the above points in your head. I conclude with a final thought – “Most of the difficulty is an imaginary creation of your fears, it is not real.”