How to Prepare for Icky Conversations

How to Prepare for Icky Conversations

You know when you need to have one of “those” conversations with someone? It needs to be done, that you’re sure of, but what exactly is the best way to do that? How do you bring it up without them getting defensive? What if they get upset? All these questions run through our minds. 

Whether it’s a difficult conversation with your spouse, your boss, your mother-in-law or your child’s teacher, there are some things you can do to lessen the possibility of them getting defensive and get the best possible outcome…for both you and them. 

Here is how to prepare for those tricky conversations.

Work On YOU First

People usually don’t get upset about what it is we say…they get upset about the intent behind it. So, it’s important to get to a very “clean” mental space before you have these types of conversations. What do I mean by a “clean” space? I mean you need to clean out all the mental drama that your brain has created around the issue and identify just the facts. The rest is just your judgement or opinion about the facts. That’s the part you need to drop to get to a clean space because when we lead these types of conversations with judgement, anger, resentment or blame, we provoke defensiveness. 

Now, with that being said, you can also have the best intent in the world and come from a completely loving place and they can still choose to be upset. Notice I said “choose”? They’re still an adult and can choose to be upset if they want to and sometimes they just need to feel upset…and that’s okay. You just focus on showing up as the person you want to be in the conversation and let them choose what they want. It’s unrealistic to have a difficult conversation with someone and expect them to not experience negative emotion. It’s all okay. You can just allow them to think and feel the way they want to.

Create Safety

Obviously, we want to make sure everyone is physically safe before having these difficult conversations, but you also want to focus on creating psychological safety for them as well. There are two things that people need to know in order to feel safe in these conversations. One, is that they need to believe that you genuinely care about what they care about. And two, is that they need to know that you respect them. 

Determine Your Real Motive

You want to get really clear on what it is you really want out of the conversation to ensure that you are having engaging in this conversation with the right motives…meaning, your motives are to create a win-win for both you and them. When your motives are right, then the right words will come more easily. Here are some questions you want to ask yourself to gain clarity. 

  • What do I really want for me?
  • What do I want for the other person? What benefit do I want them to get out of this conversation?
  • How is what they are doing effecting you AND them? Give them a reason to listen.
  • What do I want for this relationship?

Ask Permission

Lastly, you always want to ask for permission to be open with them or to give them feedback. This gives them some control and prepares them mentally for the conversation. 

 No matter the icky situation, being prepared and having a game plan will always ensure the best possible chance at a successful outcome. 


Stacy R. Landry

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