Having Tough Conversations

Tough conversations can make you feel vulnerable, resistant, and defensive, but having tough conversations is a vital life skill to learn and a sure way to assert self-esteem. Navigating tough conversations with grace is no easy feat, but grace and compassion are required for reaching a space of mutual respect and understanding in a particularly challenging moment.


Past trauma and the voice of the inner critic can so easily insert themselves into tough conversations and delicate situations. This creates and contributes to animosity and perpetuates feelings of unworthiness. In order to combat these negative feelings and in order to find mutual respect and compassion, self-awareness must be the priority.


One of the most challenging parts of having tough conversation is taking responsibility for your own actions and emotions. Initially, accountability may not seem like it will make the situation better, but ultimately accountability is where you will likely gain the most power. When accountability is the priority, kindness takes precedence over defense.


Self-work is invaluable. When self-work is prioritized it is easier to address the underlying emotions and feelings that come up when faced with a delicate situation.


Avoidance


When avoidance surfaces it is vital to first be aware, and then to find acceptance for the fact that the tough conversation is likely one of the most important conversations to have. Avoidance does not only look like completely ignoring the problem, but also unhealthily waiting to have the conversation. By having a conversation promptly integrity is cultivated, as is courage and honesty. The present moment is a reflection of how tough conversation will pan out in the future.


Rejection


Seeking love and acceptance is a normal human behavior. Associating happiness with people outside of yourself is also quite common. As a result we begin to believe we will scare off the people we “need” by speaking up. Rejecting feelings and avoiding delicate conversation can create toxic relationship dynamics. In the alternative, addressing problems openly and honestly can bolster self-esteem.


Confidence


Struggling with insecurity can make it seem as if your feelings are not valid. This is not true, and in fact this is a signal that the inner critic is raging and needs to be checked. You have the right to have your own opinions and you also have the right to address your tissues with others. Take up space.


Hurt Feelings


Hurt feelings can lead to denying your own feelings and shying away from important conversations. Do not neglect your own feelings tip toeing around necessary conversations. If this begins to take place you will feel undermined and problems will fester.


What do you want?


Spend time with yourself. By spending time with yourself you will have more clarity on what you desire from your relationships. Meaningful friendships and partnerships are driven by clarity. If you do not know what you want, it may be time to take a step back.


In addition to self-work, it is vital to take the appropriate steps to having delicate conversation the right way. You must be grounded and present to engage in graceful, open and honest communication. You are not in control of any one’s reaction, besides yours. How you present things is also fully your responsibility. Here is what you can do to prepare for delicate conversation.


Be sure you are mentally and emotionally prepared. Know exactly what you want to talk about and how you would ideally like to have the situation handled. Decide how to approach the person and where to approach the person, propose this to them and find some sort of agreement. Be sure the space you choose is quiet and safe. Do your best not delay, as it has the potential to cause adverse effects on your personal and private life


Make no assumptions. You do not know anyone’s perception or experience except your own. Leave room for the other person’s feelings, ideas and opinions. Letting go of your expectations will invite ease to the situation.


Be respectful. Watch out for feelings of superiority. No one is better than the other and if you think so it will perpetuate conflict. You both deserve to share what is important to you. Invite equanimity and respect to the conversation. Everyone wants, desires, and deserves respect no matter how difficult the situation. When respect leaves, anger and rage enter. Give the other person uninterrupted time to talk and avoid low blows. It is again vital to carry your own responsibility.


Carefully choose your words. In order to solve problems you have to be honest, clear and concise while of course remaining respectful. Expectations are normal, but poorly communicated expectations lead to resentment. When having a challenging conversation it is important to avoid words like always, everything, and never. These words begin to sprinkle an already challenging situation with exaggeration. These absolute suggestions can undermine the point you are trying to make.


Do not stonewall. Walking away or shutting down will not help you find resolve. Stonewalling will also not help you to find happiness or contentment. The only way out of a problem is through it. It is also important to find a mutual stopping point so that the other party feels heard.


Challenging conversations are an important part of life and can act as a catalyst for changing the way you handle conflict and discourse. Tough conversations can help you grow and your relationships with others continuously blossom. Growth starts here.

© 2020 by Markesha Miller, Ph.D.