5 Steps to Tackle Difficult Conversations

January 29, 2024

By Meghan Greenwood

5 steps to tackle difficult conversations
5 steps to tackle difficult conversations

Listen to the Pgh Dreamer’s Pod episode: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/meghan-greenwood/episodes/5-Steps-to-Tackle-Difficult-Conversations-e2f395l

No matter how hard we try, we can’t avoid them. Inevitably, something occurs in life where you feel very strongly. While we can certainly try to ignore and move on, thoughts fester and turn into resentment – either against a person or a group. Therefore, difficult conversations are a necessary part of adult life.

The idea of starting these conversations can make people lose sleep or feel sick. However, the word ‘difficult’ does not mean ‘impossible’. Here are 5 steps to tackle difficult conversations:

  1. Take time to thoroughly understand the problem. Perhaps that means reflecting on the situation or doing extensive research. Figure out exactly why you want to and what you stand to gain by having the conversation.
  2. Write down your talking points. This way you can get your ideas across without forgetting during the pressure of the conversation. Maybe you even rehearse to feel more comfortable. Also, it’s totally fine to reference your notes, don’t be afraid to come prepared.
  3. If things get heated, try to refrain from snapping back or being defensive. Instead, you can take deep breaths, pause as you reference your notes (per step 2), or tell the person you need a break and want to resume the conversation later.
  4. React diplomatically. Despite the outcome of the conversation, keep in mind that your reaction reflects on you, no matter how justified. If this is a work conversation, what you say and do could hinder or help your next chapter. If this is a personal conversation, you can tarnish or save a relationship.
  5. Plan your next steps accordingly. After the conversation, take action. Maybe this means you no longer talk to a specific person or that you start looking for a new job. Or, hopefully, your concerns were respected and the outcome is in your favor. Either way, the conversation is just the beginning.

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