I’m not sure I’ve ever met someone that says they particularly like tough conversations. But I’ve certainly met people who are exceptional at them, who don’t think twice about them, or who just have this (seemingly natural) grit to just get on with them.
I’m not going to lie, I’m more on the side of avoiding conflict. Not that I don’t appreciate the necessity of tough conversations and the incredible value. But, more often than not, in my past I’ve opted for an easier route out. A soft approach. A gentle nudge. Or an avoidance altogether.
It’s a learning curve for me and one that sometimes I find much easier than others.
For me, I think it’s a fear of not knowing what the outcome will be, and worrying if I’ll be able to truly get my words out depending on ‘how things go’.
I’ve learnt lots of tools and tactics to better prepare and to feel more confident, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t a bunch of tough conversations that still require constant work and even more practice.
What’s worked really well for me is definitely the preparation – and I don’t mean preparing for all the different scenarios of what they could do or say. I mean the internal preparation.
- Getting clear on my intent or purpose for having the conversation in the first place. Why is this important? What’s it going to give me? When I remind myself of why this matters it immediately makes some of the nervous jitters either worth it, or sometimes even makes them fade away.
- Having some words and language that makes me feel confident and safe and that I’ve practiced getting them out.
- A release of emotions in some way. Sometimes that’s just allowing some time to pass, or perhaps it’s talking it out with a friend or loved one first before approaching the situation, or writing a letter (regardless of if it gets sent or not), or pouring out words into my journal.
- And, rehearsing. Either out loud, on paper, or visually walking myself through the scenario. This helps me feel grounded and to keep coming back to my centred place. When I’m speaking from this place it’s always way more authentic and truthful and will come across with more love.
As with everything in life we learn through repetition.
But it doesn’t mean you have to dive straight on in to the biggest conversation of your life.
Start small, chip away at things. You build muscle strength over time. When you’re able to confidently show up for the seemingly smaller conversations, you’ll find you’re completely equipped to show up for the bigger ones too. Because you’ve built that core strength.
I think we can beat ourselves up too much and need to conquer everything all at once. But life is an evolution. We’re growing and learning so much each day.
Some action is always better than no action.
And if that some action means finding small ways to practice, then you’re already well on your way to changing your relationship with tough conversations.
We all have those inner fears that make us nervous and worried about what others think. It’s okay to find it hard. Be gentle with yourself and keep showing up. Courage expands with each step you take.