A Beginner’s Guide to Tough Conversations

Are you the kind of person who hates conflict? Do you avoid bringing up touchy subjects to keep the peace, even when something is really weighing on your mind? Here are some tips to start talking about the things that are important to you. 

Write Out Your Thoughts

In order to get your thoughts in order before you talk to someone, it helps to journal and write them out.  Don’t think of this as a script for how you want the conversation to go. Rather, reflect on the situation as a whole, why you feel the way you do, and what outcome you want from the tough conversation you’re about to have. 

Plan Ahead 

It’s not always easy to find a good time and place to talk about difficult topics. As you prepare for this important discussion, plan for the setting you’d like to have it in. Do you want to be at home, or in a neutral space like a public park? During the day, or over dinner? Different conversations call for different settings, but it’s up to you to decide what feels right. It’s also a good idea to ask the person you’re addressing shortly ahead of time if they have time to talk to you. This gives them time to dedicate their energy to the conversation, free of distractions. 

Get Right to the Point

Once you’ve met with the person you need to address, start your conversation off with what you’ve been meaning to say. Being direct will help both of you avoid more stress and anxiety over the discussion. It might even be a relief! 

Listen Closely

After you’ve stated what you need to express in a difficult situation, make an effort to listen to the other person, too. If they are hurt or confused by what you’ve said, take some time to understand where they are coming from before you respond. Their feelings are just as valid as yours. 

Honor Your Emotions

Expressing yourself and being vulnerable is a scary thing! Don’t let the other person in a tough conversation force you into changing your message or altering your truth.  If the person you are talking to becomes irate or intimidating, you can leave the situation. Ask them to talk again at a later time if the issue remains unresolved. 

Make it a Habit

Once you’ve started with one tough conversation, make honesty a habit! You will grow your confidence and self-esteem as you get more comfortable with expressing yourself. Lastly, be proud of yourself for being honest with the people in your lives about how you feel! It takes a lot of bravery to speak up sometimes, but it’s worth it!