Is there a conversation you've been putting off? Is there a coworker or family member with whom you need to talk - but don't? Maybe you've tried and it didn't turn out as you had hoped. Or maybe you fear that talking will only make things worse. Whatever the reason, you feel stuck and you'd like to free up that energy for more useful purposes.
One of the most common reasons I hear in my workshops for not holding difficult conversations is that people don't know how to begin.
Here are a few conversation openers I've picked up over the years - and used many times. See if one of them will help you initiate a conversation and free up your life energy.
- I'd like to discuss something with you that I think will help us work together better.
- I think we may have different ideas about _____________. When you have some time, I'd like to talk about it.
- I'd like to hear your thoughts on ____________. Do you have a minute?
- I need your help with what just happened (or - I need your help with __________). Can we talk?
- I’d like to see if we might reach a better understanding about ___________. I really want to hear your thoughts on this.
These openers create an environment of respect and mutual purpose. You can say almost anything as long as you maintain these two critical conditions.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The art of conversation is like any art - with continued practice you acquire skill and ease. Here are 3 tips to get you started.
- A successful outcome will depend on two things: how you are and what you say. How you are (centered, supportive, curious, problem-solving) will greatly influence what you say.
- Know and return to your purpose at difficult moments
- Practice the conversation before holding the real one, either mentally or with a friend. Try out different scenarios and visualize yourself handling each with ease. Envision the outcome you're hoping for.
If you can find a mutual purpose for holding the conversation, and if you extend and maintain respect, you will be fine.
February 25: A Step-by-Step Workshop For Holding Difficult Conversations Well
Would you like to increase your skill in addressing a challenging topic with a coworker, family member or friend?
This one-day interactive and experiential training will help you:
- Confront tough topics
- Share difficult information
- Manage interpersonal conflict
- Feel more comfortable expressing yourself
- Turn difficult conversations into learning conversations
Walk away prepared to hold your difficult conversations with power & presence.
Learn more about, "A Step by Step Workshop for Difficult Conversations."