Though hard conversations can be a challenge, there are ways to develop your conflict resolution skills that can help you through them.
Whether you have a hard conversation at work or at home, showing up for yourself in an emotionally regulated way can be beneficial.
You will have tough conversations throughout your life, so rather than avoiding them, think about ways that you can be successful within them.
Often, difficult conversations have to do with avoiding conflict and wanting to be liked rather than being open to a solution.
Perfectionism can come up in hard conversations. Sometimes you may want a fairytale ending, and some conversations will not have that resolution. In fact, most don’t.
You may need to have a challenging conversation for various reasons including but not limited to your identity, feelings, or a mismatch of expectations and reality.
It can be daunting to face a situation when you can’t predict the outcome. This can be a sign of wanting control and relying on hope may be useful during those moments. It’s not easy, though it can be necessary to move forward.
There will be times that you won’t get closure even if you have crucial conversations. If you have a hard conversation that ends a relationship, that can be a difficult resolution to accept.
Rather than minimize the experience for yourself, look for patterns that were played out. Identify what you can change about yourself instead of all the things that went wrong or couldn’t have been altered.
Sometimes, a hard conversation never comes for a variety of reasons. It can be incredibly uncomfortable to provide yourself closure rather than being able to have a hard conversation that feels needed.
If a hard conversation never comes, you can still help yourself through the grief. Allow yourself to feel any emotion that happens and validate the truth of the situation for yourself.
Acceptance can be a powerful tool to move forward, and it can also be difficult.
Sometimes, you may need the help of a professional like a therapist to move forward. That is okay. It may be a slow process, and you are still worth it.
Hard conversations are inevitable, and you may surprise yourself when you practice them in your interpersonal relationships.
Mental health can improve when you learn how to express your emotions and feelings with safe people.
Here are 3 ways to ease the pain of hard conversations:
1. Get in the right headspace.
If you are feeling reactive or not ready to have a difficult conversation, take a pause.
You don’t want to make things worse, and a breath can really help.
This doesn’t mean that you avoid the conversation all together, and there are strategies you can use to shift your thinking before you have a hard conversation.
Pausing can be powerful because it can shift a reaction into a response.
You can schedule a time to talk that can work for you and others involved. That way, you take care of your boundaries and open up space for another person to set their boundaries.
It can be important to ask permission before you have a hard conversation so that everyone can show up with the knowledge that they need their conflict resolution tools in place.
Tough conversations may require a balance of pausing and not pushing away the problems.
Rather than going in with the mission of being liked, think about how to get curious and hear more than one perspective.
2. Take perspective.
Staying open minded during a hard conversation can be tough, and it may be important not to believe everything you think.
One of the questions in the rooms of recovery is Would you rather be right or happy?
It may seem silly and not considering any ideas other than your own is a surefire way to continue having hard conversations.
If you are consistently asking yourself whether it’s possible to have an easy conversation, you may be focusing too much on being right instead of a persons perspective.
Part of taking perspective is listening carefully, which can lead to effective communication.
This means that you aren’t waiting for your turn to speak. Instead, you are actively listening to the other person.
You get to choose with whom you have hard conversations. It’s okay if you don’t want to work on every relationship.
In fact, there are many times when relationships naturally end, and that is okay. This is a normal part of adulthood.
3. Stay realistic about the outcome.
When you have a tough conversation, you may have to come to terms with the fact that you may lose a friend or loved one.
No matter how hard you try, it may not go your way or the way you thought. If you aren’t ready for that outcome, you may not be ready for the conversation.
It’s okay to grieve losses after hard conversations.
A therapist can help make these transitions smoother, though you may need to feel pain no matter what.
There aren’t always quick solutions to feel better. Sometimes, you just need to grieve and feel loss.
On the other hand, a positive benefit of hard conversations is growing intimacy in your interpersonal relationships.
When you are able to share vulnerability and have transparency with friends as well as loved ones, there is a possibility of strengthening your bond.
Hard conversations can bring lovely outcomes, and it can start with a tiny bit of courage.
It can feel impossible to start a hard conversation with another person. There is not a perfect way to handle a tough conversation.
There may be a moment where you are not liked and you don’t see the other person’s perspective. It’s okay.
Showing up and practicing in a meaningful way can grow intimacy in your interpersonal relationships.
If the conversation ends with a loss, think about your support system and how you can maintain it.
Hard conversations are inevitable, and when they seem impossible, a relationship with a caring therapist can help.
Written by: Randi Thackeray, MA
Clinically Reviewed and Edited by: Julie Reichenberger, MA, LPC, ACS, ACC
Denver Metro Counseling is a group of Denver therapists who provide teen therapy in Denver, young adult therapy, adult therapy, family therapy and other counseling and therapy in Denver and throughout Colorado.
We specialize in relationships, codependency, communication and boundaries and provide supportive therapy for people struggling with life transitions, trauma, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, ADHD, negative body image, and more.
Our clinicians are trained and comfortable working with people who struggle with thoughts of suicide and work collaboratively with our clients and their loved ones to maintain safety through a trauma-informed approach.