Difficult conversations are a part of life. They happen in our families and our jobs. Depending on your position, you may be required to have more of these conversations than others.
Very few people look forward to difficult conversations. That is normal. The people who do enjoy difficult conversations need to read this more than anyone.
Though we can’t avoid difficult conversations, we can improve on the process. Whether you are talking to a boss, employee, spouse, or child, these five things will make your conversation smoother and result in better outcomes.
Before you have the conversation, have the conversation with yourself. Think through what you are going to say. Write down the things you know you want to communicate. It is a good idea to rehearse what you are going to say and how you will say it. Most great public speakers rehearse out loud. Putting thought and preparation into what will be said and how it will be delivered is the first step to making the conversation easier.
It is useless to have a difficult conversation if you are only going to deliver part of the truth. Honest communication is the foundation for making a difficult conversation easier. When you only offer part of the truth, you are setting yourself up to have another difficult conversation at a later time. If you cannot be honest, don’t have the conversation.
Being direct is different than being honest. I know people who tell the truth, but they wrap it in rambling dialogues that lose and confuse the listener. They turn a single sentence fact into a 15-minute lengthy talk, and then the person who needs the information leaves without a clear understanding of what was just said. Big words may impress the listener, but if they don’t understand the intent, they are just impressed and not informed.
Being grace-filled is for the people who have the honest and direct part of the conversation perfected. Speak with grace. Some people fall to the belief that the truth will set you free without knowing that grace and love must also be present for it to have their full effect. You are still dealing with people; they need to be treated with dignity and respect even when they have made a mistake.
Difficult conversations are rarely public conversations. What is said needs to stay with the people who are a part of the conversation. On occasion, others need to learn some issues, but they cannot spread them to others. It then becomes gossip. Gossip ruins the benefits of a difficult conversation, and trust is lost.
I cannot eliminate difficult conversations from my life. I can learn to make them better. Apply these five things the next time you have a difficult conversation, and you will get better results.