Congratulations! You have survived yet another holiday season of those awkward or difficult family interactions and a plethora of conversations. Having difficult conversations is a challenge for many people. Whether it is a tense conversation with your spouse or partner, a parent, a sibling, a friend, or even an employee, when it comes time to have a difficult conversation, we often avoid it when we can.
We avoid these conversations mostly because of our avoider and pleaser saboteurs, as Shirzad Chamine outlines in his Positive Intelligence research. We may believe that nothing good comes from conflict. We might feel afraid that someone will no longer want to be in a relationship with us if we share a truth or need to have a difficult conversation. So we do whatever we can to avoid the hard talks.
Unfortunately, when we do this, wounds fester, fears grow, and little problems become bigger problems. When we learn how to handle the sticky conversations, the fear of them no longer has a hold over us and we are in fact able to squash the pressing issue before it spirals into something worse.
Here are 5 ways to adrenalize your ability to resolve conflict peacefully and effectively, so you can stop avoiding difficult conversations:
1. Change Your Beliefs. Conflict has good outcomes and good things can happen as a result of a difficult conversation. change the belief to "people will respect me if I speak my truth and am firm in my convictions." What we believe about conflict will get in our way, so change the belief.
2. Stick To The Facts. When having a difficult conversation, sticking to the facts helps. Sometimes when we are afraid of having a conversation, our emotions escalate and we become consumed by emotion and our conversations can take a turn. So stick to the facts and remove the emotion.
3. Don’t Ask “Why?” When we ask why questions, we put someone else on the defensive. Instead of asking "Why did you do that?" change the question to a "What was the reason behind that?" When we ask a "what" question first, the other person will be less likely to respond defensively.
4. Use Active Listening. Active listening allows us to improve our understanding and ask for clarification when having a conversation. Restating in your own words what the other person just said will leave the opportunity to ensure you heard the person correctly. Use "so what I hear you saying is...." and then conclude with "is that correct and if not can you please clarify that for me."
5. Set The Intention. Before beginning a difficult conversation set the intention of what you want to accomplish by having the conversation. This becomes a goal for the conversation and creates a focus instead of allowing things to get off track.
And finally, approach this season and these conversations with an underlying and unshakeable gratitude for your loved ones. Put any quarrels aside and remember you can always start anew when you choose to lead with love, kindness, and patience. And if the best thing for everyone involved is to not have someone in your life any longer, then release them in peace and gratitude.
Adrenalized Living requires that we take time to contemplate, reflect, and meditate regularly, and when we do so, we adrenalize our ability to navigate difficult conversations with more grace.
Self-reflection helps us to develop self-awareness. And as our self-awareness grows, so does our confidence and our ability to be patient in tense circumstances. Cultivating self-awareness is part of our life journey, but also part of our spiritual journey. It provides the space for clarification, understanding, and most of all forgiveness of self and others.
The more we enter into a tough conversation with self-awareness, kindness, and a clear intention, the better we will feel on the other side of it. These approaches will allow us to engage with an open, curious and learner mindset to drive to solutions rather than recycling the same conversation that yields no result.
As we move through the beginning of this year, make a commitment to overcoming your fears of difficult conversations and choose your long-term happiness over the momentary comfort we experience when we avoid them. Your future self will be so grateful you did it!
Tom Marino is a highly respected thought leader, success strategist, speaker, and author. After a period of personal transformation, he founded Monarch Life Coaching, LLC to help high achievers navigate seasons of transition by recognizing the power of their choices. His book, Bridge to Change, documents the simple process of transformation that he believes catalyzes greater appreciation and enthusiasm in our lives. He is the host of The Adrenalized Life Podcast. Tom works with people across the U.S. to help them overcome burnout and live adrenalized. Contact him by visiting www.tommarino.com, on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.