Unconventional Coaching

Energizing the relationships in your life

January 8, 2013
Fighting Fair

That Dreaded Conversation

Someone asked me the other day about how to deal with an uncomfortable conversation. She was concerned because a relatively new friendship had entered a tough spot. This friend/acquaintance had suddenly seemed irritated with something (she had no idea what), and had asked to meet for coffee. What to say? How to be? She had an inkling that this might be some sort of confrontation and she was nervous.

Oh yes, the dreaded difficult conversation.

We have all had that uncomfortable, awkward feeling that someone is needing to talk with us, (maybe AT us), or us with them. It’s hard not to feel defensive before we have even started.

We’re getting ready to battle or at least skirmish.
We’re figuring out how to protect our vulnerabilities.

What to do?

Here’s something really effective:

To get prepared (if you have 5 minutes or 5 days), think about how you want to feel afterwards—-after walking away. What feeling do you want to have that will strengthen your best sense of yourself ? (I’m okay, I’m fine, I respect myself, I handled it well). How do you want to avoid feeling?(furious, incompetent, bad, wronged).

The deal is to go ahead and feel the good feeling right now–even before the conversation. Just let yourself feel that feeling, whatever it is, fully and completely. Imagine the conversation is over and you are fine. Better than fine–because you’re on the other side of it and you are proud of yourself.

Neuroscience tells us that just doing this quick setup will help your brain stay calmer in the middle of the conversation. That’s the power of intention and focus.

So how did it turn out for this friend?

She reported back that the conversation was indeed tough. The guy was definitely in complaining mode, but she reacted differently. She did not get defensive, she just maintained her own sense of the situation. She thought about what was true for her and did not buy into the guy’s definition of the truth. She clearly let him know that her truth was different, without making it blow up into something else.

She walked away with a positive sense of herself–she said it felt different, much better than the defensive attacks she usually did (and then would feel mad at herself).

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