Mastering the art of the difficult conversation

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From Avoidance to Action

When I was nearly nine months pregnant with my first child, the midwife leaned into my ear and gave me some advice which would prove helpful not only then, but in many other situations. I want to share it with you now.

And no, it’s not “PUUUUSHHHH”

She leaned into my ear and said “Mel, the anticipation and worry about the pain of childbirth is worse than the pain itself”. 

Of course, at nine months pregnancy, there is no such luck as avoiding child birth. That baby is coming out one way or the other!

However it’s a different story with difficult conversations. Avoidance is rife. And yes, the pain and worry that sits behind and fuels that avoidance is worse than the conversation itself. I have had experiences of avoiding conversations for months only to finally acquiesce or be forced to confront an issue and have ALWAYS been surprised at how painless it was compared to the world-ending disaster that I had built up in my mind. 

  • “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be!”

  • “I’m so pleased that’s over”

  • “I feel like a weight has been lifted”

Are all familiar things we say to ourselves - after we have moved past avoidance to action. We know the relief of having the guts and skills to master a difficult conversation - and yet, we avoid them still. 

People, we need to break this cycle!

Knowing about our tendency to avoid these things is simply not enough to kick start us into action. We need strategies to help us move through the quagmire of excuses, endless “rearranging of the spice rack”, active procrastination and justifications we use to do anything BUT have the difficult conversation. 

How do I know all about this? Take it from me, I am (or at least was) a master in avoiding the difficult conversations. To be brutally honest, I still have to pay attention to these techniques - it is still hard, but I back myself that I can go there and get a good outcome. And I know you can too. 

Two things to master

There are two things to master when it comes to the difficult conversation - mindset and skills. The most important of these is mindset.

Mindset enables you to:

  • Have the courage to schedule or start the conversation in the first place

  • Turn up ready for an exploration vs an argument

  • Keep things on track if they start to go awry

Keep these in mind next time you are preparing for a difficult conversation:

  • Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. I know it can be hard to believe, but it is very unlikely that the other person has deliberately tried to ignore you, frustrate you, annoy you or demean you.

  • Instead of seeing a difficult conversation as something that you win or lose, look at it as something of a learning opportunity, bring a sense of curiosity to the conversation and your experience within it.

  • Feel your feelings and emotions and decide what to do with them vs acting on autopilot in your same old ways.

I can help

If difficult conversations are something you struggle with, then I can help you. Come along to this one-day training course, so you can experience the satisfaction that comes when you stop avoiding things and start taking action!!!!!!

Mel Rowsell