Welcome everybody, Gail Kraft here from The Empowering Process Podcast, where we are going to discuss purpose, power, and being present. Today we’re actually going to talk specifically about why we avoid difficult conversations, and maybe a couple of steps to prepare to actually hold one. Difficult conversations, it’s really kind of interesting because all of us get that feeling of anxiety for one reason or another, when there’s a conversation that needs to be held that for some reason, we don’t want to.
If you boil it down, and I like to boil things down to their basic lowest denominator, if you will, and I may not want to hold a conversation with you, because I’m afraid that I’m going to hurt your feelings. I haven’t framed a discussion in a way that would feel good to you. And so, I don’t want to lose your love. So, the fear of holding a difficult conversation is the fear of not being loved.
Think about it for a moment, if you hold back, “If I do this, then they won’t think I’m perfect. If I do this, they won’t love me anymore. If I do this, they’re going to go away.” Right? It’s holding on to something because you’re afraid to lose it and that thing that you’re going to lose, hurts your heart.
You still have to hold that difficult conversation. Right? But in a way that is constructive, and maybe has a little bit of a jolt, but not too painful. And another reason why you may not want to hold a difficult conversation is the feeling of receiving pain. Someone that may get emotionally or physically angry with you for speaking your mind or holding this discussion that might be a real or imagined fear.
If it’s real, and even if it’s emotional, or physical, you need to address whether or not this is a situation worth saving, worth trying to bring life to. That’s your decision to make. Physical or emotional trauma is not cool with me.
So, if we were coaching, we would talk about how to hold those conversations in a constructive way or end the situation. But those boil down to the smallest denominator, its fear or love. Fear of getting hurt, or you know, fear actually of losing love. And even the fear of emotional or physical results, or blowback is kind of a fear of losing love, as well.
So, it all boils down to love. Funny how that happens, with me at least. So, we hold back for a variety of reasons, a variety of justifications, a variety of stories that we make up in our head in order not to hold a difficult conversation.
Now, I just made a statement, those stories we make up in our head; that is a great line to use in holding a difficult conversation.
You might start off with, “you know, I needed to talk to you about what’s going on here because when you do that, here’s the story that I make up. Here’s the story that’s going on right now, whether it’s true or not, you need to know the language, the conversation that’s happening.” That takes ownership of you filling in the blanks. You see, our brain has to have a complete story because it functions by emotion and pictures. And so, the fuller the picture that you make in your head, the better.
When you don’t have all of the details, which typically we don’t, we do not communicate deeply and thoroughly enough. “If you give me some information, I’m going to fill in the blanks,” and guess what, I just changed the story! And I might have a complete misunderstanding as to what’s going on. Neither here nor there. If I am afraid to hold a difficult conversation with you, we’re not going to clear the air. And I’m going to hang on to that story and probably build on it time after time after time and it’s going to become quite the story.
So first of all, before you hold that difficult conversation, be sure you’re safe. Then, what piece of that do you own by saying, “Here’s the story that I’ve made up in my head,” you’re taking ownership of your piece of it. And part of that story might be, “When I did this, I didn’t realize that you would respond that way. And so, I need to understand why you responded that way. Because the story I’m making up in my head is that you are really angry at me, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” right? Just an example of using that phrase, and taking ownership for your part of the story, because we all have a piece of the story.
Then when you’re holding the difficult conversation, what’s the outcome that you’re looking for? If you’re not clear, in your own mind, the outcome is going to be whatever the outcome is. So, let’s say the outcome is that we’re going to create healthy boundaries, “Because this wasn’t cool with me, and I’m not sure that it was cool with you.” you might say, “Listen, we’re going to hold a conversation, I’m going to tell you the story that I’ve made up in my head, and explain what was going on with me emotionally and mentally. But when we’re done, I would like to create some boundaries, so that we don’t cross this line again.”
“I want to create some emotional or behavioral physical boundaries so that we don’t have this discussion again. This is a one-time discussion, I would prefer, okay?”
And then no blame, just the facts, right? “It’s your fault that I feel this way.” It is not anyone’s fault that you feel or respond in any way, you are responsible for how you are able to respond to any situation.
This was a hard lesson for me to learn, guys, I will tell you, and once I did, my world changed completely. And sometimes I choose not to respond, to step away. And sometimes I go through this process, right? “What’s the outcome that I want? What’s the purpose of this meeting? What’s the story that I made up in my head? And where do we go from here so that we’re not placing blame?”
“So, you know, when you do that, you may not realize that this is what it triggers for me and here’s what happens. You may not realize,” or, “I have this need and this desire and for some reason, I haven’t communicated that to you. So let me spend some time right now, and let you know what my priorities are, what’s really, really important to me, because I think we’re missing it here. And if I haven’t told you what they are, then I can’t expect you to really know,” And then just focus on the here and the now. Don’t bring up, “We’ve had this conversation time and time again.” Don’t bring up, “You know, this is not the first time this has happened.” Don’t bring this up.
You are talking about this moment in this time. And if it is a repeating pattern, and you have had a healthy conversation, and you have been clear about boundaries, and you have come to an agreement on those boundaries, and it’s the behavior that happens again, then again, you need to make a decision, where does this fit on your values scale and if it’s your top five values and if your values are being met and it is very important. If it is under that [not affecting your top values], how important is it? Can you let it go? But you can say, “Listen, this does bug me a little bit and I need to let you know, but it’s not one of my top values. So, I’m just letting you know, I’m letting it go.”
Still hold the difficult conversation because if you do, you might find out that the other person involved is making up their story which is not congruent with your story and the two of you are going in completely different directions, and it’s like you’re not even reading the same book.
So, why do we avoid difficult conversations? Because of fear, a fear of losing love, a fear of retribution, a fear that the norm that you’ve created is going to be disrupted. Holding difficult conversations is vital to a healthy relationship.
This is Gail Kraft from The Empowering Process podcast. If this brought something up for you, by all means, do share and comment, I’d be happy to do an ‘ask me anything’ segment or maybe even a segment on it. If this was meaningful and brought you some value, please share it with someone that maybe you know could also enjoy listening to this, or write a comment, like it, share it. Become part of the group and subscribe. We’d love to hear some more from you. The Empowerment Process podcast. Talk to you again soon. Bye bye.