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How To Have the Hard Conversations


I promised I’d give you tips on framing your conversations in order to deliver “your truth” with both grace and wisdom. First of all, if you still just want to fight, this won’t work. Take a long, hard look at whether or not you are ready to get the chip off your shoulder and hear another point of view. This is the hardest part for most of us, but once you’ve gotten past wanting to “lay into someone,” then you have a shot at succeeding to bring your relationships or projects to higher ground.

Once you’ve established you are willing to hear another perspective, now you have to convince the other person it will be safe to talk to you, preferably about “their truth” in full. Chances are the person with whom you need to resolve an issue already knows it and is going to be on guard. Getting him or her to relax begins with you.

STEP ONE: remember your commitment to gaining resolution (connect to the heart of the matter). You can say something like this to the person:

• “I am really committed to be connected with you and having communication be as easy as possible.”
• “I really want our relationship to get closer, better, more intimate, etc.”

It’s important to speak to the other person’s heart (yes, even at work) before their head, because our feelings are what most overridingly influence our decisions and abilities to communicate, be persuaded and create partnership.

STEP TWO: make it safe. Good statements to establish this could be:

• “I am having an experience that I want to check out with you, because I don’t know if I am interpreting it correctly.”
• “I made something up about X, and I want your perspective.”

You might have to add in more reassurance, depending on your history with the person. That might sound like this:

• “I might be way off base here, I can’t wait to hear what you have to say on this.”
• “I know you are accustomed to me jumping to conclusions/being judgmental or suspicious, that’s why I want to check.”
• “I know I have X bad quality or a tendency to see things through X lens, so this could totally be me, but . . .”

STEP THREE: state your case. To keep that good setup in place as you speak your truth, you might say:

• “When you said or did X, I felt Y, or I thought it meant Z. Is that true?”
• “When I heard or saw about A, I thought B. Is that fair?”

Now the ball is rolling. Guess what’s next? Shhhhhhh. Listen and listen real good.

STEP FOUR: listen closely for news! Your job is to hear something enlightening, something you didn’t already know or assume, okay? You can do it! When you hear it, acknowledge it.

STEP FIVE: repeat back their perspective.

• “Oh, so what you are saying is . . .”

This will help them relax even more and want to validate your perspective. Oooh it gets good here! If they don’t address your perspective, you may have been too graceful. Double check you actually said clearly what the person did or said that led you to your negative conclusion and repeat if necessary, asking them to address.

If this ends you up in a fight, chances are that fight was waiting to happen and thank goodness it’s at least now out in the open, giving you two a chance to resolve it authentically. Remember whatever you are NOT talking about, you are keeping “true” and locked in and the less you can hear a new perspective. So the more negative the stuff, the more important it is to find a way to start talking about it. I hope this helps!

Let me know if this is detailed enough and if it works. Based on your feedback, I will give more info.

Love, Laurie