Having Difficult Conversations

Life has never been easy on anyone. On the contrary, anyone who even seems like they had it easy – has had it extremely difficult. Trust me on that. Life is not a smooth ride for any rider, and it has always been a bumpy ride riddled with potholes, sharp turns, flat tyres, bad roads, and No roads at times!

But as Paulo Coelho puts it, ‘Straight roads do not make skilful drivers,’ similarly, easy life never made happy people! All the happy people you see out there; who look like they have everything under control; have had to overcome some of the most challenging tests until now, i.e., Having Difficult Conversations.

Whether you are in a relationship and feel the need to move past it, communicating this to the other half, who is still invested in the relationship, is a difficult conversation. Or, it would help if you told an employee that they need to resign…is a difficult conversation. Or you must deny a request to lend your money to a friend…is a difficult conversation. Or demanding your rightful share in a property or reasonable dues at the workplace, especially when people are not being fair…is going to be a difficult conversation. Or sometimes something as trivial as asking your friends and relatives to pay for your professional services, which they feel you offered to them as goodwill, is also a difficult conversation.

These are those times when life puts you at a crossroads, and you must choose one road to advance. What makes it more complicated is that you must choose the road without full knowledge of what lies ahead, of what that path brings you. It is sometimes a blind choice, a leap of faith, or even a gamble. But it would help if you still made that decision. 

Why is it Difficult!!!

These conversations may feel normal for some but extremely difficult for others. What makes it difficult is the realisation of ‘What is at stake!’ What may be at stake is what makes it challenging to make such a decision and what makes it difficult to communicate this to the other person. 

It’s probably a considerable amount of money involved or probably something more inestimable – Emotions, feelings, self-worth, hurt, and pain!

You probably know what the other person may go through post what will be said. You also know how much s/he may have invested personally, monetarily, and emotionally all this while. Therefore you understand that the amount of hurt and pain it will cause them is unfathomable. Probably for the same reason you have waited on the sidelines and endured what has been going on for a while. Probably you have chosen to keep quiet about it and brush it under the carpet for a long time now, ‘just to keep the peace.’ It might be little things that have added up or bigger let-downs that happened over time. Or it is probably what will follow after the rude surprise that will be too emotionally heavy that you cannot deal with, so you have continued to bear that in silence.

Whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure – it is getting heavier by the day, getting increasingly difficult to keep up with the chagrin. 

Why must we still make those decisions!!! 

Your decision to be quiet about the issue to keep the peace is probably not working in the long run. The more you decide to ignore it, the more intensely it backfires. It has become that wet brick you have been holding for way too long that has now started to get heavier and heavier, and you know you must put it down to stop the discomfort. 

Talking about the issue is challenging, but you must do it to unload yourself. It is precisely when you feel like you don’t want to talk about it – it IS when you MUST talk about it. 

If not now, it will only get more and more difficult later and may come out at an unwarranted time over an unnecessary issue and at a needless place. Times when you feel you have no choice but to do it, but still don’t want to do it – is when it is the most important to do it!

Keep in mind

Now that you eventually muster up the courage to talk remember it will not be accessible by any means. It will not be easy for anyone and may change the order of things forever. Therefore, there may be some essential things you must realize and remember.

First and foremost, be honest about why you want this conversation and what you want out of this. If the goal of your discussion is proving yourself right and putting the other person down, you might as well drop the conversation altogether.

Next, always remember that the other person deserves as much respect and dignity as they held while things were hunky-dory between you both. Just because things are falling apart does not give you the right to strip them of their respect and dignity due to feeling wronged!

Then, be ready for a NO! This is probably something that most of us find challenging to deal with… A Rejection. A denial. A Failure. But this is where you need to remind yourself, time and again, that the other person does reserve the right to say No. And that you must respect that as much as you would respect an agreement to your terms. Be prepared to hear a ‘No’ and plan your response if the outcome is not in your favour. 

In addition, avoid any urge to get even, score over them, put them down, hurt them or resort to blaming. Remember you shared a good part of your life with them. They are there in your life for a reason, and respect that reason. Just because things may not be going the way you imagined them does not give you the right to be mean to them. 

Additionally, avoid Sarcasm, belittling, personal remarks, and manipulating the situation to make your demand look justified.

And last but not leastfocus on the situation. Approach them with sensitivity and take care not to mock them. Keep it private and genuine. Be objective and fair to both of you. Remember, you are dealing with a Human whom you shared a part of your life with, and they deserve better treatment. Be empathetic and see the other person’s point of view as well – because this probably came out of nowhere for them. They weren’t even expecting this. Allow them time to come to terms with it, sink, and sulk. Allow them space to process what’s happening and have the maturity not to dictate how they ‘should’ be feeling according to your plan! 

Remember, difficult conversations will always be difficult until you make them challenging. But your job resumes after the dialogue. The person at the other end might require help coming to terms with it. So give Closure where necessary – the other person deserves it. And do check on them to see if they are OK and if they are OK with you checking. That’s it!

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