Here’s how to prep for (and succeed in) difficult conversations:
Don’t enter the conversation with your current emotions. When you’re upset or want someone to change, it’s easy to enter the conversation in a bad emotional place. Don’t do that. Remember, conversations are a 50-50 game; it’s as much about the other person as it is you. Take a breather, get perspective, and always enter a tough conversation with humility and kindness.
Begin with the end in mind. How do you want the other person to feel at the end of the conversation? What do you want them to believe or do? How do you want to feel and be perceived? Keep your answers in mind, and you’ll be more intentional and effective during the conversation.
Use the XYZ pattern for making requests. Say something like, “I saw or heard you do X, I felt Y and my request is Z”. The pattern ends with a request to talk openly about what you saw and felt. Asking permission to talk about it says you’re open and non-accusatory.
Be more patient. When you are sharing bad news or delivering a difficult message, take it s-l-o-w. Be patient and allow the other person to feel, to speak, to let your message sink in. Don’t dump your feelings out on them or seek a hasty resolution. Almost all problems in difficult conversations come because someone is impatient. Breathe. If the relationship is important, then it’s important to be patient.