Read This if You’re Avoiding a Difficult Conversation

It’s human nature to want to avoid a difficult conversation. You’ve been doing it since you were a child, and now as an adult, the fact you are avoiding a

Avoiding a Difficult Conversation Brad W. Smith design, Express Yourself, LifeIsHOTBlogdifficult conversation doesn’t even cross your mind. Most of us would rather pretend a problem doesn’t exist than confront someone about a problem. And that’s exactly what we do. Chances are great that your current approach isn’t working for you. While you’ve been busy avoiding conversations you don’t want to have, you’ve also been a victim of others. So, if you’re willing now to reclaim your power instead of giving it to others, here are four steps to take, and three long-lasting benefits to taking those steps.

Some Very Public Examples of Avoiding a Difficult Conversation

You might be avoiding difficult conversations, or blaming others for your discomfort, because it’s become socially acceptable to do that, instead of owning it and dealing with the conflict.

You might be avoiding difficult conversations for the simple reason no one ever taught you how to deal with conflict in a way that leads to resolution, safeguards feelings, and maintains respect.

There’s plenty of evidence in recent events that actions that take place in secret, in ways that prevent or avoid conversation, do not bring about change. Witness what happened with Bill Cosby. 

His secret testimony allowed him to continue his raping for 10 more years.

In Austin, Baltimore and Charleston, protesters have been painting the phrase, “Black Lives Matter” on Confederate Monuments. Wouldn’t it be more effective to insist on public discussion, in the open, than to vandalize in the dead of night?

The whole conversation about Confederate Monuments is as much a ruse to avoid the more difficult conversation about racism in America as it is about where or how those monuments should be sited. The public debate that largely isn’t happening in the South or anywhere else is not dissimilar to the private conversations we don’t have about things in our relationships with others.

One person = Peace

Two people = Conflict

Why You Want to Claim Your Power

Some people offer various ploys to avoid talking to someone about a subject, but long-term, it’s actually not in your best interests to avoid the difficult conversation.

If you’re the one who wants the change, the longer you put off the conversation, the longer you have to put up with the behavior that you don’t want. If the other person wants the change, the longer you avoid the conversation, the more energy you put in to figuring out ways to avoid the inevitable. Either way, you’re being cheap. 

It takes a great deal of courage to have one of these conversations. You can make it easier on yourself, and guarantee yourself a better outcome if you follow these four steps and spend a few minutes thinking about each of these questions:

  • Recognize that each of you is part of the issue and be prepared to honestly feel and express your emotions. Before you begin, ask yourself this question: What impact has the situation had on me?
  • Address the conflict directly, and keep the conversation to the single issue, without introducing verbal graffiti. Let yourself be vulnerable by owning the parts that you own. Before you begin, ask yourself this question:  What have we each contributed to the problem?
  • Start by thanking the other person or persons for being willing and able to engage with you and for stating their truth. Before you begin, ask yourself this question: What’s their story? What might their intentions have been?
  • A difficult conversation requires you to confront your own insecurities, so have compassion for yourself. It’s fine and even a great idea to ask others who are not directly involved to support you as you work to resolve the situation. Before you begin, ask yourself this question:  What do I hope to accomplish by having the conversation?

3 Reasons You Want to Have This Conversation

There are three on-going benefits to having one difficult conversation.

  • By addressing the issue, you bring about a change that makes your life better.
  • When you’re able to handle a difficult conversation well, you change the point of view of the other person by changing their understanding of the situation. You may gain a different perspective yourself, either of the situation or the other person. No matter what happens, you’ve learned something.
  • Most importantly, when you force yourself to have one difficult conversation, you own your power. When you own your power, it’s possible to go on and have other difficult conversations and through them, to improve or eliminate those things that stop you from fully experiencing your own life.

But only if you actually talk about it.

Live Honest, Open and True

There’s at least one thing in your life that merits a conversation, yet you avoid it because it’s difficult to face. When you continue on by not talking, you allow yourself to be someone’s victim, and you prevent the change you need. By talking about it, you bring about the change that makes your life, and your relationships, better.

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