“Difficult conversations are almost never about getting the facts right. They are about conflicting perceptions, interpretations, and values.” – Douglas Stone

I think each of us has had a pit in our stomach at one time or another as we think about having a difficult conversation with someone who matters to us. Whether it is resolving a conflict with a team member, discussing a sensitive topic with a client or handling difficult feedback. Perhaps you need to confront a loved one. It is not something we seek out, yet we know when we have to have that difficult conversation, procrastinating or hoping it will just “go away” is never a good strategy to build trust, create resolution and grow.

Here are 4 tips I use with my clients to navigate these conversations with confidence and grace.

4 Tips to Navigate Difficult Conversations with Grace:

1. Prepare with Intention

Preparation is key to approaching difficult conversations confidently.

  • Gather Your Information: Going on our own perception alone can backfire. It is critically important to make sure you have all the relevant facts. Understanding the context, the people involved and being clear on your potential outcome can help you feel more calm and in control.
  • Clarify Your End Result: What do you hope to achieve from this discussion? Setting clear objectives can serve as good guard rails throughout the conversation and staying focused.

2. Create a Safe Space

Choosing a safe environment can make a world of difference.

  • Create the Right Setting: Pick a neutral, private space without distractions where everyone feels comfortable and safe. Choose seating that doesn’t create barriers or give one person a power advantage. This helps to foster open and honest communication.
  • Set the Tone: Establish ground rules for the conversation. Clarify that listening without interrupting, respecting each other’s point of view and staying present will ensure that each person feels heard and valued.

3. Communicate with Empathy and Clarity

Effective communication is all about balancing being clear and compassionate.

  • Use “I” Statements: Communicate your thoughts and feelings from your own perspective to avoid sounding aggressive. A statement like: “I feel concerned about…” instead of “You always…” keeps it neutral and open.
  • Be Direct but Kind: Address the issue directly, but with kindness. Our tone is a large part of communication, this approach will help to resolve the issue without fueling additional tension.

4. Listen Actively

Listening is equally as important as speaking in a difficult conversation.

  • Show Empathy: Acknowledge the other person’s feelings and perspective. This builds trust and shows that you have considered their point of view. It can foster more authentic dialogue.
  • Reflect and Summarize: Repeat back what you’ve heard to confirm you understand, this also demonstrates that you have been actively listening. The objective is to help clear up any misunderstandings and keep the conversation on track.

Grace Cards™Navigating difficult conversations can be challenging, but with these guidelines, you can approach a wide range of conversations with confidence and grace. Difficult conversations are opportunities to strengthen relationships, foster understanding, and grow as a leader. Embracing them with a positive mindset and an open heart, as opposed to something you want to avoid or dread, will shift your results. Your attitude determines the energy you bring into potentially charged situation. Why not create the environment that will breed success and resolution?

If you are looking for a group of like-minded women, join our online community that is supportive, grace-filled and fun, I highly recommend joining our Circle of Trust FB group.

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Dogs and Sand DunesTake sometime to consider what you have just read and think back on a conversation you have had where you wish you had navigated it a bit more compassionately and had been better prepared. This 4-step process has helped me and my clients over the years. Give it a try!

Enjoy the dog days of summer and take time to soak up the goodness of summer!