3 Tips to Survive a Difficult Conversation

We all have that family member, co-worker, or friend who out of the blue and without warning sets us off. Maybe it’s a comment that triggers insecurities within us, or a feeling that we are being judged for who we are or the choices we make. And for some reason, conflict with this person really takes you off your game.

The great thing about these “teachers,” is they create opportunities for us to look within ourselves, to push ourselves to expand, and to ultimately become more in touch with who we are at the core.

That all sounds great, but when you find yourself in the moment, heart racing, mind swirling with anger or resentment… how do you focus enough to make this a “learning experience?!”

1. Step outside yourself. What does that mean? It means take the emotion out just for a minute by becoming a third party observer to the situation. Be curious and receptive to possible reasons for the conflict.

2. Deny the drama! It’s so easy to go “off the tracks” into an over the top reaction filled with words you will regret. Drama can be a familiar place to fall into because it puts the ownership completely on the other person… and isn’t that such an easy way out? To really grow from experiences such as this, you must discipline yourself not to fall into the blame game and instead call upon your higher self (aka… the grown up in you!) This is a time to listen and most importantly really take in what you are hearing from the other person. Let them be heard… and chances are they will do the same for you.

3. Speak your truth. I really believe it’s not what we say, but how we say it. I call it the “mud sandwich” …and it’s all in the delivery. You say something positive, then state your truth, and end with something positive. It’s really that simple and a powerful way to diffuse a tense situation pretty quickly. For example, your co-worker for the tenth time this week has set you off with something or another. Maybe it’s a side comment, or they disagree with everything you propose, or they take credit for your ideas or work. In the case of side comments, the “mud sandwich” would go something like this: “I really admire the confidence you exude and the contributions you make during our team meetings. It’s clear you really have a handle on the pulse of the organization. It would really help me if we could schedule some time each week to discuss the status for different projects. The reason is I’ve noticed several comments you’ve made which lead me to think there is confusion on your part regarding my role and the value I bring. My goal is for us both to succeed. How does that sound?” Using this approach opens things up to dialogue in a non confrontational way but at the same time makes it clear to the other person you will not tolerate being thrown under the bus!

If what you are doing now isn’t working, try these tips or others you think would work for you. The point being… just try a different approach! Conflict, when not dealt with, is a slow burn that steals energy every day. Choose instead to direct that energy towards ways of being that encourage you and those in your world to grow and expand!

Three Tips to Survive a Difficult Conversation