“Having the Difficult Conversations” is one of our core values, but, this is often easier said than done. That’s why we decided to take a look at the actions that make the difficult conversations even more difficult or cause us to avoid having them completely.
First of all, what is a difficult conversation? Well, this can be a little subjective, something that your colleague considers complicated, might be easy for you, that said, society generally considers certain topics (like religion, politics, failure, etc), complicated and we usually avoid them as much as possible.
Hiding our emotions can create spaces of psychological danger and damage relationships both at home and work. Difficult conversations, although uncomfortable, can be game-changing.
Violent communication is any communicative act that might cause the other person to step-back or shut down (even if it was unintentional). We are accustomed to communicating violently and often don’t even notice it.
There are flaws and bad habits which present themselves in our everyday conversations, especially when trying to avoid or discredit difficult conversations. These communication processes create violent communication.
We think it’s good to start by analyzing our own communication, is it violent? By acknowledging and accepting the truth, we can make changes in order to avoid ongoing problems, unsolved conflicts and misunderstandings.
We recommend that you check out our Difficult Conversations report, where we explore the specific actions that we unconsciously make that are considered violent.
Assertive communication is the ability to express both positive and negative ideas and feelings openly, it’s a great way to take responsibility for ourselves and to start those difficult kinds of conversations.
There are types of communication that make us less assertive, and represent ways of avoiding difficult conversations. Here are some of them:
This conflict is especially annoying for the other party as it fails to provide clarity on responsibility or expectation. Communication should be as straightforward and clear as possible, making sure that we’re specific with the message.
If you start a conversation in this way, the outcome isn’t going to be positive. Empathy needs to be present in difficult conversations. Communication that addresses other’s faults and mistakes, should be oriented towards improvement and progress rather than blaming and accusing. Take time to think, and decide what you want to say.
This is especially important when giving feedback. A great way to shout someone down is by pointing out their mistakes. We need to be empathetic and address issues from a propositive point of view. When we point out the negative it can feel like it comes from a place of judgement, rather than from a desire to improve something.
We believe that at some point we’ve all been manipulative and it’s often hard to identify. The need to be in control of everything and have everything your way is exhausting and can end friendships. Our advice is to be honest and keep it real.
Apart from these types of communication that affect our difficult conversations, there are plenty of other simple obstacles. You can read about them in a more detail here.
We’re always working to improve the way we communicate, we hope this helps you too. Sometimes it’s not the topic, but our attitude or the words we choose that make a conversation difficult.
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