The dreaded difficult conversation. You know the one. When you know you need to say something, but you don’t.
Instead, you put it off. Or completely avoid it. You might reason to yourself that saying something will only make things worse.
Yet all the while, you might notice you’re carrying around all this pent-up nervous energy. You might also find yourself short-tempered in other situations completely unrelated. While it might feel like you’re stuck in limbo, the good news is you’re not.
Take this example, for instance. A former client of mine, I’ll call him John, feared his wife would file a court motion for custody of their two children. According to John, his wife had recently mentioned she’d seen a lawyer and thought it best if the kids were with her most of the time.
I asked John if he considered coming right out and starting a conversation with his wife to find out if his fears were true or not. At first, he seemed a bit mortified and instead preferred a more passive “wait and see” approach. He feared if he said something, there would be an argument and his wife would be more likely to want the children full-time.
And so I encouraged John to initiate a questioning type conversation with his wife. Where he could simply ask questions to get some information. There need not be an argument at all.
Fortunately, what John came to see was that the immediate discomfort of initiating this kind of conversation with his wife would be far better than doing nothing and then having his worst fears come to pass.
Importantly, it’s essentially the same way you would approach any difficult conversation. The approach is spelled out in The New York Times and Washington Post bestseller, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High.
The 7 steps for crucial conversations are summarized in this blog post by Anne Loehr, Executive Vice President at The Center for Human Capital Innovation (CHCI), as well as an author, executive coach, facilitator, and consultant. I suggest copying or printing the handy checklist below from the blog post to help keep these steps in mind.
The good news, according to Ann Loehr, is this skill-set is easy to learn, and once it is learned, will allow you to face anyone in any situation, regardless of power, position, or authority.
Liked this post? Please share on social media or with others who would find it helpful.
To receive the most up-to-date family law tips and developments, sign up to receive our weekly blogs or monthly newsletter right to your inbox.