How to Approach Hard Conversations at Home & at Work

Published on 22 July 2020

Privilege and the Subconscious Mind

In a coaching session last week with one of the CEOs I coach, he was feeling anxious about navigating an “uncomfortable conversation” at work. He had hired a new team member and he didn’t want those under that person to feel “demoted” when they started being managed by that new hire rather than the person they had previously been reporting to.

His primary concern was that this team member wouldn’t receive the information the way he intended to deliver it and their feelings would be hurt. So I asked him, “What do you want that person to feel?”

That’s the first step of having an uncomfortable conversation: get clear on the FEELING you want the person to experience during your interaction. “Love, care, support, and excitement” he said.

Did you know that the most effective way to influence another to feel something is to feel it yourself? And that’s the second step – feel that feeling throughout the conversation.

So I invited him to consider, “What would you say to this person if you were candidly communicating from a space of love, care, support, and excitement with your CEO hat on?” He realised that the reason he had changed the structure the way he had was because he wanted that team member to have better training and coaching than their previous manager was able to provide them with.

And from that remembering and feeling love, care, support and excitement, any fears he had that his team member would feel “demoted” completely vanished. It was obvious that person would feel love, care, support and excitement, because that’s where he was communicating from. Had he had this conversation from the energy of fear of what he didn’t want to happen, it would be a very different kind of conversation, with a very different outcome. He ended our call excited to have this conversation.

So in summary, there are really only 2 key steps to having conversations like the one I just described.

  1. Stop thinking of them as uncomfortable, challenging, or hard and focus instead on what kind of quality you want them to be.
  2. And then tap into that feeling inside yourself. Even a “break up” conversation can be loving and nourishing when approached through this process. But don’t take my word for it. Give it a go yourself!


Divya Darling

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