How to Have A Difficult Conversation

No one likes difficult conversations. This should make having one easier.

I’m sure you’ve heard this quote before, “Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.” That could never be more relevant then when you are having a conversation that is difficult. With the potential to cause of offense leading to feelings of resentment, it will almost always be helpful if you try to understand the other person before you try to explain yourself. Here are some other tips that should help you.

Wait until you’re calm before you speak. If you try to assert yourself while you are still upset, chances are your message will get lost in your delivery. It’s best to wait until tempers fall and until you calm down before you have a difficult conversation with someone. This is especially important that this is a relationship that you care about and want to remain there after.

Educate yourself. Make sure you understand their perspective when they speak. A lot of anger and frustration can be created based off of lack of understanding. It will serve both you and your partner a disservice if you get angry over things that don’t matter. Therefore, make sure that you fully understand where the other person is coming from before and in conjunction with having a difficult conversation.

Validate the other person. Note that this not mean that you have to agree with the other person. It simply means that you care about what the other person is saying and intend to respond according. After all, you also want the other person to understand and respect you and its imperative that you model that behavior.

Ask open-ended questions. This means, instead of asking questions that can end with “yes” or “no,” ask questions that can invite the person to express themselves more clearly. For instance, instead of asking “do you feel better today?” you can ask, ” how are you feeling today?” The other person will have a lot more of an opportunity to elaborate on their feelings if you ask the question openly like in the example above.

No one likes to have a difficult conversation. However, when done the right way, it can be the very thing that keeps people connected and with stronger bonds. If you need help navigating a difficult conversation,


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