The Hard Conversations
We’ve had numerous conversations recently about life’s various difficult situations (both personal & professional) and the consequent “hard conversations” that come with them. It’s one of those annoying facts of life that you’re at some point or another going to be thrown into a situation where you’ll need to have a difficult conversation or two, and whether it be with friends or family, with work colleagues or bosses, current, future or past employers, or with the varying array of other people we have to deal with in today’s society such as service providers, business owners / operators, customer service reps etc. it is never easy having to have one of those conversations. From our personal experience, the level of difficultly, and the ensuing anxiety leading up to it, tends to worsen if the matter is related to, or effecting your emotional & mental wellbeing.
Why is it easier for us to have a stern conversation with a sales rep, a customer service rep or anyone else, when we feel that we have had an unsatisfactory service or product, than it is to have a conversation with someone in our daily lives (family, friend or colleague) about how they’ve made us feel or something that has happened in our relationship with them!?
Why is it easier to argue or demand for our rights & what we deserve when it comes to service providers such as utilities, telecommunication companies, airlines & retailers etc. than it is to have a conversation with our boss or employer about our employee rights in the workplace, our roles & responsibilities, our health & wellbeing at work, and our remuneration?!
Here’s how we see it.. because it’s the big stuff that hits close to home that’s difficult to talk about, and it makes us feel vulnerable, and human beings generally don’t like to feel vulnerable, so we avoid the tough conversations. Unless it’s eating away at us and is causing us major stress, then most of us will eventually bite the bullet and psych ourselves up enough to have said conversations, or we’ll decide it’s not a battle worth having and remove whatever it is, or ourselves from the situation to eliminate the need to have the conversation at all.
But why? Why do we feel so bad about having conversations where we need to tell someone how we feel, talk about how we’re being treated or mistreated, that we are overworked or under-remunerated? Is it because we are afraid of the other persons reaction, because we don’t want to hurt their feelings, or are we afraid of how we will feel during & after saying it out loud? Probably some or all of the above probably, depending on you, your personality and the situation.
So our advice is this: life is too short and no one is going to put you first except for you! That’s the cold hard truth. You need to prepare yourself to have the uncomfortable & hard conversations (personally or professionally), because if you don’t you’ll never feel empowered to take the reigns of your life and demand what you deserve – the respect, care, loyalty, trust, remuneration – whatever it may be for you right now. You DESERVE it! Most of us hardly ever ask for more than what we deserve, so we shouldn’t feel bad about asking for it!
If the person is someone who doesn’t respect you – a friend, partner or boss – then you need to prepare yourself to have a tough conversation – be rational about it though, think it through, sit on it and don’t do anything in a state of anger or haste. Chat to someone close to you to give you a sounding board and another opinion, because most of us have been through something similar at some point and we can always learn from someone else’s experiences, lessons & mistakes. So prepare yourself with all the facts, and then when you’re emotionally & mentally ready – go in and hold your own! No ‘normal’ person will hold it against you for having a respectful, emotionally intelligent and rational conversation. Here are some ways you can start a conversation:
I have something I’d like to discuss with you that I think will help us work together more effectively.
I’d like to talk about ________with you, but first I’d like to get your point of view.
I need your help with what just happened. Do you have a few minutes to talk?
I need your help with something. Can we talk about it (soon)? If the person says, “Sure, let me get back to you,” follow up with them.
I think we have different perceptions about ________. I’d like to hear your thinking on this.
I’d like to talk about ________. I think we may have different ideas about how to ________.
I’d like to see if we might reach a better understanding about ________. I really want to hear your feelings about this and share my perspective as well.
However, if the person is not on the same level as you, intellectually or emotionally, or they are narcissistic or a condescending psychopath, then unfortunately our experience is this: you will never change them, their opinion or their mind, about you or anything else for that matter. Those types of people are not worth wasting your energy on - they will drain you and damage you, and you’ll end up walking away defeated and in need of some very real TLC and probably at least a few months of therapy to regain your self-confidence and love.
Toxic people and situations are difficult to recognise until you’re in too deep and it’s too late, the damage has usually already been done. Hard conversations in these instances are usually more pain than what they are worth, speaking from our own personal & professional experiences, and they almost never result in anything changing or any type of constructive or positive outcome.
So our lesson to pass on here is this: walk away from anything that no longer serves you or treats you the way you deserve. Your life and your emotional & mental health and wellbeing is not worth sacrificing for anyone or anything – no job, friend, partner or thing is worth your sanity & happiness. Know when to fight your battles and when it is time to walk away to save yourself!
Nis & Sarah