HOW TO PREPARE FOR A DIFFICULT CONVERSATION
Preparation Is Key
Difficult conversations can drain us emotionally and physically. It’s very easy to put them off. The issue of course is that the problem does not normally go away and indeed it can get worse. When it comes to any difficult conversation planning is key. It’s vital for us to consider not just the words we might use but also the emotions that might arise and how we are going to manage them. The following schema offers questions and actions to consider in preparation for any difficult conversation
Before The Conversation
1. Goal Of The Conversation
• Why is this conversation important?
• What do I want to accomplish in this conversation?
• What could be an ideal outcome?
2. Assessments and Assumptions
• What assessments am I making about the situation and the other person?
• How grounded are those assessments?
During the conversation
1. Conversation Surroundings
• Where do I plan to have this conversation? Is it conducive to the conversation?
• What time of day do I plan to have the conversation? Is this time optimal for me?
• What words will I use to begin the conversation?
• What do I want my body language to communicate?
3. Listening and Emotions
• What listening blocks might arise during the conversation?
• What emotions could be triggered in me during the conversation?
• What tools could I use to manage those emotions? (Breathing / 7 Second Reset)
• What emotions might be triggered in the other person during the conversation?
• How can I manage my reaction to those emotions?
Exercises To Consider Before The Conversation
1. Simulate The Conversation
It can be very helpful to simulate the conversation with another trusted person. Although this might seem very artificial it is amazing how quickly we get into character and we begin to feel real emotions as if it was happening. This gives us space in a safe environment to practice the words we are going to use, recognize and manage the emotions that might arise and see what listening blocks occur.
Visualization is an imaginative technique that involves picturing in your mind how you will act in the moment doing a certain activity or the final outcome of that activity. The practice incorporates techniques that elite athletes have used for many years to visualize the outcome of their event. It is based on research that shows that the part of the brain that gets activated thinking about an action is the same part of the brain that is active when you are actually doing the action. Visualization has the power to create new neural pathways in the brain. This technique can also help us create different responses to events or experiences that trigger us.
Take some time to visualize the conversation. In particular focus on the words you use and how easy they come to you. Notice how you are able to deal with any emotions that arise. Notice how you remain calm and focused during the conversation. Finally notice how you reach your ideal outcome.