Tough Conversations: It Takes Two to Tango

Barinderjeet Kaur is a Life coach and human behaviour specialist based in Melbourne.

Have you ever found yourself avoiding a conversation that you know won’t be easy? Why do we do that? Whether the conversation is with a boss, a partner, a friend, a staff, or a colleague, it is undoubtedly uncomfortable, and it is also necessary. Maybe you have been thinking about a situation and are scared to proceed because you are unsure where it will lead to or how will it end? It’s likely that based on experience, you are predicting that the worst-case scenario could happen or has happened in the past.

Let’s break down these common fears step by step.

Understand that a conversation is two-ways:

When we think about having a tough conversation, often we desire an outcome which we have already conceived of in our mind. We don’t want it in any other way. And that’s the problem. When those thoughts prevent you from even giving it a try. Let’s break down what it means to have a conversation in the simplest of terms. A conversation means – asking for something, proposing something, sharing your opinion, exchanging ideas with others, summarizing your thoughts, and reflecting what you understood from what someone else told you, a back-and-forth play. So, when we say ‘conversation,’ that means someone else is involved. Then why is it that we want it to end in a way that we envision, and not any other way?

Once you experience this shift in how you view conversations, you will never view tough conversations the same way again. A conversation does not have a distinct order. And it is not a statement nor a command that others need to follow or listen to. Understanding this distinction will change your approach. As a result, you will be more open to listening to other perspectives, including different sides of the story and interpretations of a situation. Letting the other party speak and contribute towards the dialogue allows you to look at the other side of the coin, and if you are creative, many new possibilities could take form.

Drop your assumptions and go with an open mind:

The desire to have a predictable outcome based on experience holds you back from having a two-way conversation. In other words, it is important to avoid predetermining a negative outcome. Haven’t you heard this before, “There’s no point talking to that person because I know he or she will not understand”? This example shows that an outcome has been determined. Perhaps it was a prior experience that led to disappointment, an argument, or something else.
When approaching a conversation, have a positive outcome in mind – what you would like to achieve, getting your point across, gaining clarity or understanding. With that approach, the conversation will not sound or feel like a tough conversation. Instead, you will proceed to the conversation with an open mind, encouraging the discussion to flow in whatever direction it needs to move towards, allowing you to be flexible and create space for the other party to share their ideas or perspectives, opening the door for new possibilities.

Are you choosing short-term gain or long-term pain?

Avoiding tough conversations encourages trading short-term discomfort or pain for long-term discomfort or pain. This occurs when instead of going for the pain, which might not be worse, you decide to stay with a pain that you are currently experiencing. The uncertainty of the unknown causes humans to prefer long-term pain. So, we think we are saving ourselves from long-term pain and opt for the short-term gain by avoiding a tough conversation.
Now, think of a time where you had a tough conversation that resulted in your promotion, an improved relationship, monetary benefit, or had your voice heard. We all have experienced that in some way, shape, or form. That is what happens when you chose the long-term gain over the short-term pain. No one said it was easy. What matters most is that we must choose. Which do you prefer – long term or short term?

Get in touch with me today via email at [email protected] and let me know when it comes to handling tough conversations, do you prefer a short-term or long-term approach?

(Barinderjeet Kaur is a Life coach and human behavior specialist based in Melbourne. | Facebook page: Empower Your Destiny)

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