So here we are again dear readers, another blog post. This one was not simple to compose because I had to consider so many factors. In the end, after I spent a long time thinking about what to write I said “F*#k it” and I realized I was over thinking the subject. Hard conversations are not the norm. Of course, “hard” is subjective but I am talking about the conversations that lead to conflict or change relationships.
Divorce, coming out to loved ones, political debates, anger…. You get the picture here. All of us are going to have to have hard conversations in our life. I am closing in on 54 and I really thought about how many hard conversations I have really had. I am around a dozen myself. I’ve had conversations with siblings about getting them out of my life, to a serious girlfriend years ago cheating to a brother-in-law’s suicide to subduing a drunkard physically. The ones I have had with my children were hard but straight forward, being a parent has its advantages.
So, reflecting on all of that I came up with 5 things you can do to help you handle hard conversations:
- Say as little as possible: Listen and hold your tongue. Let the other person get emotional, overcome, and vocal.
- Mean it: When you do speak, you better mean what you say. No B.S. no vacillation. This is a hard conversation you can’t flip flop here. It’s likely there will be yelling, ultimatums, hurt feelings. If you are going down this rabbit hole mean what you say.
- Stand up and create space: Hard conversations can become physical. Be aware of what’s around you. Be aware of where you are, where the door is and most importantly awareness of the other person’s ability and propensity to become physical.
- Follow the eyes: This works both ways. Eye contact is important but can lead to hostile outcomes. If you are firm, and prepared, you look the person in the eye. This lets them know you are prepared to “have it out.” Looking at the ground and looking away creates the demeanor that you are aloof and or want to get away.
- Don’t engage: There are times when the best course of action is to say “No” firmly and exit the situation. It’s essentially picking your moment. You might not be ready for this. Have the conversation on your terms if you can.
Now none of this is an exact science. Things happen and hard conversations can pop up at any time. Chances are in your life you are going to have a dozen to twenty. If you have more it’s likely that you are around the wrong kind of people. You have hard conversations, generally, with people you care about or love. Something has happened and someone has been harmed emotionally, this is when hard conversations happen.
The random person on the street starting shit? That’s random. Your spouse yelling about the house not being clean? That’s a festering long standing issue that has now presented itself into a hard conversation. These things are going to happen and how you handle them could make or break some of your most important relationships.
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