Talking about difficult topics can be intimidating, and often requires time to plan. Unfortunately, avoiding these conversations may lead to increased stress and anxiety.
Disciplining difficult conversations respectfully is essential for maintaining positive working relationships with colleagues, particularly if you aspire to progress in your career.
1. Be prepared
Difficult conversations are inevitable in the workplace, yet often employees avoid them – creating a toxic work environment. These may involve providing harsh feedback to an employee, resetting expectations for that employee, or providing an honest performance review.
No matter if it’s with a roommate, parent, or colleague, it’s essential to prepare and approach the conversation respectfully. Here are four tips on how to approach such conversations in an appropriate and healthy manner which will improve your feelings, foster healthier relationships and reduce stress for everyone involved:
Prior to having a difficult conversation with someone else, take time for self-care. Going for a walk and taking some fresh air can help you feel more in control of how you’re feeling.
Avoid entering the conversation with your emotions bottled up, so take some time out of yourself to decompress and think about what to say. Additionally, keep in mind that the person on the other end of the discussion may also be feeling emotionally charged; offering empathy and assuring them you are having this discussion with a goal of reaching a resolution can be immensely helpful.
Second, take time to prepare for the conversation by being well informed. Doing this will prevent heated opinions and emotions from taking over and help ensure cooler heads prevail during the exchange.
Third, prepare yourself by considering why you’re having the conversation and how it will affect you, your team or the organization as a whole. Being prepared will give you the assurance to handle the situation positively so that you can achieve the desired results.
2. Don’t get defensive
Defensiveness is a defensive response to criticism that causes us to feel hurt and ashamed. While this is an understandable response, it should never become an ongoing pattern in one’s behavior.
Instead of becoming defensive, try to remain composed. Doing this will enable you to communicate more effectively and prevent future negative conflicts from arising.
Another strategy is to consider how you want the conversation to flow and then work backwards from there. This way, you can begin by talking about topics that don’t cause major disagreements.
This strategy can also be employed to prevent arguments in the first place and minimize defensive feelings. You could start by discussing low-stakes conflicts from your past, using filler words or taking a moment to gather your thoughts before discussing more serious matters.
It is essential to remember that people can become defensive when feeling threatened or unsafe, and this can especially be true of romantic relationships.
Defensiveness can often be indicative of a deeper issue, such as mental illness or personality disorder. It could also be an expression of past trauma or abuse which fuels one’s desire for power over others.
If you’re having trouble curbing your defensive behavior, consider seeking assistance from a counselor or psychologist. These professionals can teach you ways to stop being defensive in an appropriate and healthy manner, which in the end will improve the quality of your relationship.
Finally, if you can manage your defensiveness and stop blaming others for what goes wrong in the relationship, then it will lead to a more harmonious atmosphere overall. By choosing assertiveness over defensiveness, you may choose a path forward that leads to greater harmony within the group.
3. Don’t blame
Confronting a difficult conversation can be intimidating. But if done well, it can lead to greater productivity at work. The most important rule of thumb is not to ignore what they say and instead focus on what they are saying in order to build trust and prevent repeat performances. Having an action plan for each scenario helps too; you could set up a meeting time and place beforehand or arrange specific conversations with specific people for support during this difficult period in your life.
To better understand someone else, put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself what qualities they would value in you. Empathy for others will make you a more effective leader and employee.
4. Don’t ignore
Many times, people avoid discussing a problem or situation out of fear of upstaging it. Unfortunately, this approach often leads to further issues in the long run.
In difficult conversations, it’s essential to remain grounded and supportive. Doing so will help keep your emotions under wraps and make the conversation more fruitful.
It’s essential to listen carefully and comprehend the other person’s perspective when trying to solve a problem. Doing so will enable both of you to reach an amicable resolution.
Finally, it is vital to recognize your feelings as valid and legitimate. Becoming distressed, frustrated, and anxious during a challenging conversation can have serious repercussions for your mental wellbeing.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a break to decompress. This could include going for a walk or having a coffee break. Additionally, reflecting on what has been learned from the discussion and what could have been done differently to prevent it from occurring again may be beneficial.
People who ignore others are not necessarily bad people; they could just be having a difficult day or dealing with some personal situation that makes them feel unimportant.
Neglecting someone can be incredibly painful. Not only does it diminish one’s self-worth, but it can also alter sensory perceptions and lead to self-doubts which could have longterm negative consequences.
Neglect can have serious repercussions for your relationships if you feel ignored by a partner or loved one. You may start questioning yourself and whether the need is too great, or the relationship has become toxic for both of you. Neglect can even trigger the fight-or-flight response which could prove hazardous in the long run.
5. Be respectful
When discussing a difficult situation, it’s essential to remain respectful. This means not blaming or taking sides but instead listening intently and helping them find an answer.
Although this may seem like an obvious strategy, many people get so caught up in their conversation that they neglect to listen. Unfortunately, successful and respectful communication requires paying careful attention to what others have to say.
In the workplace, this can mean being mindful of your colleagues’ time and asking if they have any queries or need assistance with a project. It may not seem like much, but it’s an effective way to demonstrate your concern for colleagues and their needs.
Though it can be challenging, respect is essential for healthy and productive teamwork. Employees tend to be most creative when there’s an atmosphere of mutual respect among team members.
It is beneficial to be mindful of how your own emotions may influence the conversation. For instance, if you’re feeling defensive about what’s being discussed, take some time out to breathe and relax before returning to the conversation.
If you find yourself in tears during a conversation, it’s essential to let your partner know and ask them for assistance or a break. By being emotionally vulnerable during difficult talks, you can better comprehend your colleague’s emotions and work toward resolution together.
Blaming someone can often be a form of social comparison. It may make you feel superior and like a better person, but this may not always be what the other person desires or needs.