How to Have a Difficult Conversation!

Difficult conversations are sometimes unavoidable.

One reason we find it hard to have a difficult conversation is because we worry about what the other person might think of us.

We want to avoid conflict and spend time worrying about how to approach a subject, which keeps us from having honest conversations.

People pleasers are bothered by this and don’t want to rock the boat with friends and relatives.

The way to have difficult conversations is to come from love.

Let the person know that you love them, and be honest and calm.

Speak with “I” statements such as “I feel” or “I think” and clearly explain your concern.

If you’re side-tracked or interrupted, politely tell them to please let you finish.


Hbr.com lists 4 steps for having a difficult conversation if you are a conflict avoider:

Begin from a place of curiosity and respect, and stop worrying about being liked.

Conflict avoiders are often worried about their likability. While it’s natural to want to be liked, that’s not always the most important thing. Lean into the conversation with an open attitude and a genuine desire to learn. Start from a place of curiosity and respect — for both yourself and the other person. Genuine respect and vulnerability typically produce more of the same: mutual respect and shared vulnerability. Even when the subject matter is difficult, conversations can remain mutually supportive.

Focus on what you’re hearing, not what you’re saying.

People who shy away from conflict often spend a huge amount of time mentally rewording their thoughts. Although it might feel like useful preparation, ruminating over what to say can hijack your mind for the entire workday and sometimes even late into the night. And tough conversations rarely go as planned anyway. So take the pressure off yourself. You don’t actually need to talk that much during a difficult conversation. Instead, focus on listening, reflecting, and observing. 

Be direct.

Address uncomfortable situations head-on by getting right to the point. Have a frank, respectful discussion where both parties speak frankly about the details of an issue. Talking with people honestly and with respect creates mutually rewarding relationships, even when conversations are difficult.

Don’t put it off.

How often is your response to conflict something like, “I don’t want to talk about it” or “It’s not that big a deal” or “It’s not worth arguing about”? If you’re always promising yourself that you’ll “bring it up next time it happens,” well, now’s the time. Instead of putting off a conversation for some ideal future time, when it can be more easily dealt with, tackle it right away. Get your cards on the table so you can resolve the issue and move on.


The Outcome May Be Positive.  The Other Person May:

  • Hug you
  • Tell you it’s a great idea
  • Thank you
  • Tell you they love you
  • Respect you for being brave
  • Love you more than ever

The Outcome May Be Negative.  The Other Person May:

  • Stop talking to you
  • Give you the cold shoulder at gatherings
  • Talk about you behind your back
  • Yell at you
  • Ignore you

There May Be No Reaction!

Until we actually have conversations, we’ll never know!

Remember, we are not responsible for others’ emotions because others can to feel however they want to feel.

The way to resolve issues is to have difficult conversations.

Difficult conversations and not attaching to others’ emotions takes practice, but isn’t it better to show up as your authentic self?

Are difficult conversations hard for you?  Please leave a comment!

TOPIC: How to Have a Difficult Conversation!

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