Difficult conversations / conversaciones difíciles

Difficult conversations

New Year’s resolutions are common in these first days. Many people think about what they want this year to look like and make decisions to get closer to their goals. For some, these decisions lead to changes that sometimes require difficult conversations at work or at home. With people they care about or people who have power over them.

Difficult conversations often reshape our lives, opening new possibilities and enhancing relationships, although you might think that’s not true.

Emotions run wild

The difference between these conversations and plain vanilla conversations is our emotions. When we care, our emotions are strong, and they can cause us to say or do things that are contrary to our goals.

Emotions are a red flag. They come up for a reason—to make us realize something. As a result, we can fall into a false dichotomy. This is the belief that we must make a choice between two bad alternatives:

  • Speak up for ourselves and risk our relationship by disappointing the person we love or risk angering a person in a position of power.
  • Suffer in silence, allowing the situation to go against our goals.

But none of this is true. We don’t have to choose between telling our truth and taking care of our relationships. We can refuse to fall into this false dichotomy and have both.

Starting a dialogue

The question at this point is: how can we be both honest and respectful? 

At the heart of any successful conversation is the free flow of information. This means being able to honestly express opinions, feelings, and thoughts, even if they’re unpopular. In any difficult conversation, opinions differ. I believe one thing, and you believe another. I have one story, and you have another.

And yet, you can always make room for everyone to safely share their ideas without worrying about the consequences. Without that shared information, we can’t have a fear-free dialogue.

Creating the conditions for everyone to be honest and respectful isn’t easy. Sometimes honesty can lead to anger or disappointment. The key is to stay focused. We can disagree on the ideas and still respect the person.

Staying focused

When we begin to understand different perspectives, our ability to make better decisions increases. It’s not just about having the conversation; it’s about having the best outcome.

Staying focused means not letting our emotions get in the way, whether it is fear, love, anger, or resentment. We must also acknowledge the emotional field of the other person. They are also allowed to feel what they’re feeling during the conversation.

By letting them express themselves, we gather important information that can give us clues about what the conversation needs. By managing our emotional field and acknowledging theirs, we can overcome obstacles that are not part of the outcome. And finally, with proper dialogue, we can commit to the best outcome without having to choose between the decision and the person.

Here’s to a year full of critical conversations that improve your life and your relationships.

Happy New Year!

Image by Etienne Boulanger at Unsplash