We regularly stumble upon difficult conversations–those normally involving the emotions of other people–both at work and at home. Though we’d much rather ignore, work around, or avoid them, here is a quick reminder of the secret to becoming someone who can handle most any difficult conversation.
The core of difficult conversations is not the other person’s emotions but our habitual fear of them. We have the habit of anticipating what could go wrong for us: restriction, anger/conflict, rejection, manipulation, lack of safety, boredom, criticism, or over-control. Whenever we anticipate something going wrong, it is very natural that we become quite defensive, closed off, limited in our ability to respond well.
The secret is to set aside any concern about what might happen during the conversation. Replace the concern with the thought that you can handle anything that might happen. When we do,
- we listen more fully,
- the other person feels heard (a great gift),
- we are better able to generate fresh ideas and solutions,
- we are more nimble, flexible, intelligent, and
- we improve the odds of the difficult conversation becoming a rewarding conversation.
In your corner,