03/25/2015 12:05 EDT | Updated 05/25/2015 05:59 EDT

Why it's Important to Have Difficult Conversations

It's important to have difficult conversations -- so why do we avoid them? We avoid difficult conversations for many reasons, including:

  • We don't want to make matters worse
  • We fear we'll be attacked back
  • We don't want to be mean

It's natural to fear difficult conversations, however the truth is that when we practice compassion and treat each other with respect, the conversations rarely are as difficult as we expect.

What Happens When We Avoid vs. Participate In Difficult Conversations

When we avoid difficult conversations the issue never has a chance to be resolved. Plus, as we play the stories over and over in our mind, the stories gets louder and the people in the stories become bigger and bigger villains.

When we participate in difficult conversations we have an opportunity to build trust and respect. We also learn we can challenge each other without fear which means our relationships with other people and/or organizations improve greatly.

When we participate in difficult conversations we:

  • Demonstrate we care enough to bother (vs. sweep it under the rug)
  • Respect creativity and other people's opinions / experiences / education
  • Realize we might have missing something if we had not discussed it with someone else -- (two minds are better than one)
  • Build confidence in ourselves and our relationships
  • Create trust and respect
  • How To Prepare For And Have Difficult Conversations

Overall, stay positive, listen mindfully, be compassionate (don't attack), and do not be defensive. Difficult conversations are rarely conflict situations until we make them that way.

If this really is a difficulty conversation, the other person now has the choice to do something with the information you shared... or to do nothing. If this was a conflict situation, some resolution and/or compromise will have to be found. (I will discuss the differences between Difficult Conversations vs. Conflict in another post.)


Having difficult conversations is vital to healthy, vibrant relationships.

Get clear on your purpose -- make sure your purpose is constructive and not about teaching them a lesson. If you get emotional, heated and off topic then it's likely they will also get emotional.

And finally, be comfortable being uncomfortable. Yup, difficult conversations will be uncomfortable. But, your intentions are good and you are willing to be uncomfortable for the benefit of the individual, relationship and/or company.

Happy communicating.

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