Initiating A Difficult Conversation


Have you ever avoided initiating an awkward conversation? What drives our avoidance? Fear? Apathy? Laziness?

Maybe your feelings were bumped or bruised and you knew (you just KNEW) you weren't supposed to "let it go," but that you needed to talk it out.  Perhaps it was a curt word from a colleague or a brush-off from a friend; maybe your spouse made you feel uncomfortable or your kids were making poor choices. It could be as simple as correcting a fact ("My name is Joy, not Joyce.") or as awful as owning a mistake ("I forgot to include you.")

Even if you decide to dance around issues at home, confronting people at work is necessary if you're going to be an effective leader, colleague, and employee.  You have to be willing to engage in the awkwardness and push through the emotions in a situation.

Last week I was talking to a friend who was historically an "avoider" who decided she was going to engage in difficult encounters whenever needed and do so as quickly as possible.

"What changed?" I asked.

"Well, I'm tired of feeling uncomfortable."

I must have looked puzzled because she continued,

"When there's a problem, I used to walk around feeling uneasy, waiting for something to happen to clear the air.  Like maybe the person would tell me why they are being rude (or whatever) or suddenly explain what's going on. I'm tired of feeling uncomfortable. I figure if I engage with them THEY might feel uncomfortable with the conversation, but then it's not just me. I figure it's their turn and besides, then we have the chance of making things better."

What you don't know about this person is that she's no "issue" vigilante, calling people out for random bad behavior. She is thoughtful and reserved. She's also committed to healthy relationships. She isn't going to let her emotions dictate her response.

I liked her logic and, among other things, it encourages me to go ahead and "talk it out" sooner rather than later.

Let your uncomfortableness be a motivation.