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Frightened of Difficult Conversations?

31 Oct

Halloween poster with zombie background. EPS 8 vector file included

Today is Halloween so I picked a scary topic – difficult conversations.

What’s so frightening about them?

Often a lot is at stake or we feel that things really aren’t fixable.

We would rather get a root canal done rather than figure out a way to “confront” the other person.

We don’t want to hurt someone or possibly be hurt ourselves. And most of us haven’t been taught this basic skill set to even figure out how to go about it.

It is highly unlikely that you will ever completely eliminate your fear and discomfort of taking the first step to having a difficult conversation, but there are ways to reduce that anxiety and discomfort.

Here is a great list of 9 common difficult conversation mistakes from the Harvard Business Review:

  • Getting caught up in the combat mentality – the conversation shouldn’t be about a winners and losers.
  • Oversimplifying the problem – the issue is likely complicated with many facets that you aren’t even aware of yet.
  • Forgetting to bring respect to the conversation – this mistake is key!
  • Lashing out or shutting down – avoid extreme reactions and remember to state what you want/need.
  • Reacting to thwarting ploys – LOVE this example. If the other person stops talking, say something like “I don’t know what your silence means.”
  • Getting caught by our own hooks – know your hot buttons going in, so if the other person tries to hit them, you will be prepared.
  • Rehearsing – difficult conversations can’t be scripted however you can think about your perspective of the issue and what your preferred outcome would be.
  • Making assumptions – The only intentions you can be sure of are your own! The best way to understand where the other person is coming from is to ask!!!
  • Losing sight of the goal – remind yourself how you want the relationship with the other person to be.

Hopefully, these insights will make hard conversations a little less scary.

Jeanette

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