8 Tools To Have Tough Conversations


tough conversationAvoiding or delaying a tough conversation can hurt your relationship. Here are 8 tools to have difficult conversations – when you don’t like conflict.

Do you have some tough conversations you are avoiding with someone — your loved one, colleague, employee, employer?

Here are 8 tips for sharing that difficult conversation sooner — so you can have a better feeling in your belly sooner.

8 Tools To Have Tough Conversations

1. Memorize the following: “It’s better to have that difficult conversation now, rather than deal with more difficult problems later.”

Or…a fun way to remember this: “It’s wise to kill those relationship monsters while they’re still mini monsters rather than huge monsters.”

2. Figure out how long it will take to have this tough conversation – then schedule it.

Is this challenging chat going to take a mere twenty minutes- and can it be done by phone?

Or will it take at least a full hour – and must be done in person.

If it’s a mere twenty minutes by phone, then come on! Schedule that call ASAP.

If it’s longer — and needs to be done in person — make that call or email ASAP to arrange the conversation for sometime in the next 48 hours.

Usually a tough conversation is better done in person. So be certain you’re in a location where you can talk openly, without worrying people are eavesdropping.

3. Explain the benefit of talking up front.

Admit that talking about a difficult subject can be uncomfortable, but you’d rather have a difficult, loving, healthy conversation now – instead of a decaying, untruthful, unhealthy relationship later.

You can also specifically tell the person how much you value your relationship — and that’s why you are committed to speaking truthfully.

For example you can say:

  • “I am sorry I have not communicated this until now — but I want to tell you how I feel about (fill in the blank).”
  • “When I did (fill in the blank) or you did (fill in the blank) what it meant to me was (fill in the blank).”
  • “I have been hiding from asking you about (fill in the blank) — or telling you the truth about (fill in the blank) because I am afraid if I bring it up you will think/feel (fill in the blank).”

4. Be specific.

Psychologists agree it’s best to limit your talk  to the one specific recent event that has been bugging you and ignore any past offenses.

5. Start sentences with “I,” not “you.”

The goal: Own your feelings; don’t slander the other person.

6. If you’re planning to open up about a secret, ask yourself why you’ve been hiding what you’ve been hiding.

Indeed, it might help if you to talk more honestly with yourself first, before you even talk with this person.

7. Set time blocks.

Alternate 3-5-minute time blocks of “Expression Non-Interruptus” until you both feel you’ve been heard and understood.

8. End on a positive note.

Create an upside to talking. Your goal: Make sure the other person will want to talk openly again in the future, should the need arise.

Close the conversation by listing all the positive things you learned from communicating.

Also be sure to talk out loud about the specific new action steps you both will try to now do — so you don’t have “Problem Redundus” — where you keep re- experiencing the same problems again and again.

Think happier. Think calmer.

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