Ep 90: How to Have Difficult Conversations


  • 5 easy steps to take when preparing for a difficult conversation.
  • The reasons WHY you should have difficult conversations.
  • How you can find peace and calm no matter the reaction you get in the conversation.

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Is there a conversation you've been meaning to have but are putting it off because of how difficult it feels?

Trust me, I've been there.

But here's the thing, difficult conversations are worth having because it allows us to live authentically and compassionately.
On this episode I dive into the 5 steps to take when having a difficult conversation.

1. Decide if you want the discussion (and ask yourself WHY)
2. Get clear on what you want by the end of the conversation
3. Clean up your thoughts (about yourself and the other human) to come from a place of loving compassion.
4. Write down your talking points.
5. Practice the conversation in your brain beforehand.

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You can also comment on this podcast's Instagram post or take a screenshot of you listening and post it to your Instagram stories, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
Tag me @sarahlmoody

You got this, rockstar.

Download Full Episode Transcript

Hey Rockstars. Okay. So this week we are going to talk about how to have a difficult conversation and by the way, this is a skill that you just practice. So don't worry if this sounds and feels really difficult right now, I'm going to go through a very simple set of steps for you to take so that you can do this easily.

Okay. Before we get started with this episode, huge favor. If you're somebody who's already been listening to the show and you love it, please can you go and review it on iTunes? And if you already have, thank you so much. I love reading the reviews and I love seeing the reviews there too, because it helps others find these tools and I'm on a mission to make sure all the humans feel calm and confident in their lives who want to do this cognitive work.

So thank you so much for helping me spread the word with your reviews

. Okay. So leaders make decisions. And having a difficult conversation is about making a decision to show up for yourself. Be a leader, be vulnerable, be an amazing partner. It really is a decision. And as you learn how to have difficult conversations, it becomes really easy.

Trust me. Okay. So how to have a difficult conversation is a thought, right? It's not a fact, it's not a circumstance that would stand up in a court of law, but sometimes I love putting a thought and the fact line of the framework. So I like making it a circumstance because then I get to think about it.

So what do I want to think about how to have difficult conversations. What I want to think about it is I want to think it's easy and fun. It's easy to have them because I want to be the best version of myself. And so what is the best version of yourself? As a leader? As a teammate? As a romantic partner, as a friend, as an ex romantic partner, what is the best version of yourself?

I want you to think about that. So one answer could be where you show up as your most authentic, connected self, not expecting those other humans to change. You're authentically connected to your own self, your own truth. And you don't expect the other humans to change, because remember we have zero power when we expect others to change because they won't change unless they want to.

Right. So I love thinking that I always want to be the best version of myself. In all scenarios. And so then that, so then that means I'm just going to show up and be authentic. And that is the skill of how to have difficult conversations. It's about honoring yourself and being authentic with yourself and building authentic relationships with all the humans that you care about personally and professionally.

It's about literally, you got to drag yourself through some of the discomfort. Kinda like, I don't know. You're, I mean, I live in San Francisco, so let's look at the golden gate bridge and we've got this body of water right. Under the bridge. And, you know, sometimes I like to visualize myself, like, you know, walking through that water, it.

Lots of currents. It's hard, it's uncomfortable. You know, I'm not certain that I'm going to kind of get to where I want to go, but you want to keep going because you want to get to the other side. And so if you want to have authentic relationships and honor your knowing and trust yourself and feel connected to what you know to be true.

Then you need to drive the communication versus waiting. Authentic relationships are about you honoring you and how you want to show up in that relationship versus waiting for someone else to drive the communication. So here are a few examples. Say, well, I'll start with one example for me, that's happened in the last couple of weeks is I have a, I have a niece and she's been in my life for about maybe 20 years.

She's not a blood relative, but you know, I'm her aunt. She's amazing. I love her to pieces. I've been a aunt, you know, Inspiration coach to her for decades. And she invited me, which was so amazing to her wedding at the end of the summer. And I was just so honored because I love her so much. And I want to honor this moment in her life.

And. And I thought about, you know, she's having this big wedding and lots of things going on. And I just thought, you know, what is honoring me and our relationship? And what would honor me and our relationship is. And she lives in New York is if I go to New York and we don't get a ton of time together.

And so what felt really authentic to me in this relationship that I love is that I go to New York in Q4 of this year after the wedding and spend a weekend and really spend some quality time with my niece and her new husband, and really honor this authentic relationship in that manner. So I definitely noticed some, you know, before I coach myself, I definitely noticed some thoughts of like, oh my God, she's gonna think that I'm not appreciative, or she's going to think that I don't love her.

You know, my, my, my, you can let your brain be unmanaged, or you can decide that you're going to coach yourself and look at all these thoughts as a witness or observer and be like, oh my God, none of this stuff is true. So I called her and had this authentic conversation with her, had this difficult conversation, even told her that this is, this is a little difficult for me to say.

So I said it right up front and it was such a beautiful conversation for me, it brought me even closer to her and she loves. The suggestion and the idea and the opportunity to really spend some quality time together later on in the year in New York. So that's one example. 

Um, you know, I have a student right now, who's talked about the fact that, um, she's married and her husband, she's noticed is having like, you know, an emotionally like inappropriate relationship with another woman.

And she wants to be in this marriage and she wants to shift this relationship with her husband and it only takes one human in any relationship my friends to really start building this authentic, vulnerable relationship. And so she had a difficult conversation with him and started off talking about the fact that, you know, she wants to, she wants this marriage.

She wants to feel authentically connected and, you know, honor that knowing that she has inside that things feel inappropriate with this other woman. And it was a very difficult discussion for her, but she went in from a place of like, not expecting her husband to change, but telling him how she feels, right.

Honoring how she feels and honoring what she wants. Her husband gets to decide whether he's going to, you know, decide not to have this inappropriate, emotional relationship with this other woman or not. So, um, that's another example for you. 

a third example is I have another student right now where we're at, you know, and she's a team leader.

She runs a big team and, and she was sharing how one of her team members has been really negative and confrontational in meetings and is not getting their work done on time. And so as a leader, she knew that she had to. Show up and make a decision and have a authentic conversation with this human about how they were showing up at work.

And so she had that difficult conversation, right. And I'll go into some more of the details around how that went later on in the podcast. So I want you to think about some scenarios right now, where you're a leader in your life, right? You're leading your life. So personally or professionally, where do you want to make some decisions

so you show up as the best version of yourself as a leader, a teammate, a partner, a friend; and just really show up authentically connected to your knowing. 

Okay. So here are the steps around how to have a difficult conversation. First, I want you to stop and decide if you want to have that conversation.

Remember, this is a decision that's it to start with. What is my reason for having this conversation? That's a very important question for you to, to ask. For me, I asked myself that question when it came to my niece and her wedding. And I wanted to have this conversation because

I want to honor myself and want to honor this relationship and I want to feel really authentically connected. So that's question number one. It's not about. Wanting the other human to change at all. Okay. So if the answer that you have is that you can have a real, authentic, connected relationship with this human and feel grounded, then go for it.

And if you feel at peace, About how you feel about yourself and your life and that human, you got the green light. My friends go. If the answer to the question is what is my reason for having this conversation? If the, if your answer is so that they will do or say something so that you can feel better or.

You know, you can feel different than you're not ready to have that conversation. Don't change the facts or the circumstances outside of you change yourself. So for example, with my student who, is married and we talked about you know, her husband having an inappropriate relationship with another person, if the answer is she wants him to change.

Then that's not the reason for her to have this conversation. She's got to get to a place of neutral and acceptance, ask for what she wants and be neutral, even if he decides not to change and then make another decision based on the fact that like, he wants to have an inappropriate, romantic relationship with another woman.

Like, okay, well, that's where you stand. So where do I go from there? That's so that's really important. So for example, um, let's go back to the, let's do another example. Let's go back to your leader with a team and, you know, you have a conversation with your teammate who thinks that they're performing and, you know, Turns out that, so she, she thinks that she's performing and you want to set our, set this human up for success and against her.

OKRs, her metrics she's not performing. And so then you're going to have to have that conversation right. About the role and the responsibility and what's working and what's not working. And. You know, showing her the data around the fact that she's not performing. Right. And so, and so it's important as a team leader to be willing to have these conversations from a really neutral place.

I mean, The person on your team may think differently. They may not want to change. Right. But you as a leader, have to have that difficult conversation and really set your team up for success. So that's step one, step two. What do you want to have happen at the end of the conversation? So if you're thinking about the framework, think about the result, right?

And if the result is you want that person to stop doing what they're doing, if you want your partner to apologize, if you want things outside of you to change. I want you to look at that and clean up that line of thinking, because if you want another person to change, you're leaving success out of your control.

So success to me is being clear and communicate. And if you're a team leader, giving instructions to this human right, sharing your feelings, not blaming them, showing up in their relationship, you know? So the goal is not that the other person responds fabulously. It's really that you speak your truth. You show up that's your result, right?

You're a leader. I want to be a great. I'm clear about timelines and responsibilities. You know, I'm a loving, supportive human of others. I make it safe for others to share their feelings. And remember like husband could get mad, the employee could get mad and this is going to feel uncomfortable. And I think it's important kind of like when I started off with my knees, I think it's important to start off.

I feel some level of discomfort about this and this conversation. There's going to be some discomfort. And, um, and so acknowledging that and holding love and kindness and compassion for the fact that you're doing something difficult and having this difficult conversation. So that's number two. What do you want to have happened at the end of the conversation for me?

I want to honor the discomfort. I want to address it right up front and I want to have love and kindness and compassion for myself and for this other human. Okay. Number three. It's important. So I had to coach myself to get to a place of peace, love, compassion, curiosity, kindness. Before I had the conversation, right.

I could get rid of all those judging thoughts that I had about myself. You know, when I was going to go talk to my names. So you've got, you're the team leader, and you've got someone in your team who's not performing. You have to get to peace, love, compassion, curiosity, and kindness. Before you have that conversation, you got to clean up your thoughts about yourself.

Maybe your thoughts about yourself as like I suck as a team leader, you got to clean up the thoughts about the other person. Maybe your thoughts are like, I can't believe they're so. You know, an apt or whatever that judgment is, and you've got to come to a place of being an adult, right. Being an adult, being responsible.

Um, You know, adults like emotional adulthood is where you know that you are responsible for your feelings. No one else can make you feel a certain way and that all the results in your life are. They're all yours. They're not you, it's not for you to blame other humans. It's, it's, it's about you and personal responsibility for you.

So, you know, it's very easy for your unsupervised brain to like get stuck and be stubborn and be a victim, and think about, you know, back to the teammate about how hard they're making your life. And, and so it's important to really figure out what's going on and really get to this place, you know, as a, as a team leader of being their biggest fan and cheerleader.

Right. And also accepting that you've done your best. I love the book, the four agreements. Which was written in like the early seventies. And one of the four agreements is, is a true belief that you always do your best. And I totally believe that. And I'm going to encourage you in all of these circumstances, as a leader, as a romantic partner, all the things that you always do your best and believe that about yourself, you've always done your best.

And so it's just, it's about owning your side of the relationship and that you did your best and you outline what you want. And then whether they meet those expectations and they can deliver is really up to them. I love asking myself like all day long, like how do you want to feel about myself? How do I want to feel about.

At this conversation and, you know, so go into this conversation, expecting that there's going to be discomfort and definitely say that upfront. And then how you want to feel like for me, I always want to feel acceptance, love, kindness, compassion, and curiosity. And that really helps me hold the neutral space when I'm having a difficult conversation.

Okay. Number four is write out some things, write out some talking points about what you want to say, because it could be difficult. Right. And they may be. Emotional. So I like to show up just real authentic. Just say, you know, I want to have a conversation and it may not be easy for you to hear what I'm going to share.

And it may not be easy for me to say, but I love you and care about you too much to not have this conversation and not having this conversation is not helping either. You know, so if you're a team leader, you're not going to be the best manager. If you're not having a conversation like this, if you're a romantic partner, you're not being the best romantic partner by not having a difficult conversation.

Right. So always start with the facts, be as specific as possible, you know, no thoughts. So just give really clear factual circumstantial data, and ideally give about three examples and remember facts or circumstances or things that would stand up in a court of law. And practice having the conversation. I definitely practice two or three times in my brain, kind of how I wanted this conversation to go and then have the conversation.

And I want you to show up as your best self and listen, right. And be very open and very curious. Okay. And sometimes, I mean, this is one of my tricks as a coach. Because every thought in your brain is optional. Remember this, my friends. So maybe just try and be a coach. And just when you know the person you're talking to has a bunch of thoughts, just be confused, be confused about the thoughts coming out of their brain.

Right. And. And so if you come from this place of curiosity and confusion and really a deep desire to understand what's going on, like what's going on with your romantic partner, what's going on with your teammate, right. That will really help you, move through the conversation. Those are really the steps.

Okay. So I'll do a quick recap of this step. So step one is stop and decide if you want to have that conversation. And what is your reason for having this conversation? If it's about you having a real, authentic, connected relationship, go. If it's about you wanting this other human to choose.

Stop and clean up your thinking. Number two, what do I want to have happen at the end of the conversation? Right? If it's about you being clear and communicating and being a leader in this relationship and being clear and loving and supportive of this other human, then go, okay. Number three, definitely clean up your thinking and get to a place of feeling:

love compassion, curiosity and kindness. Before you have the conversation, number four, plan, what you want to say, right? They may get emotional. You may get emotional and you know, definitely say upfront, like I did with my niece, like this feels like a difficult conversation. And, you know, it's going to be a little hard for me to say this, or if you're the team leader, you know, make sure you say it's going to be easy.

It's going to be hard for me. And it may be hard for you to hear that next step, practice the conversation, and then have the conversation and show up as your best self and listen. Right. And be open and be curious. And then really what this is about in finally. Is really about you deciding to be the best version of yourself as a leader, as a teammate, as a romantic partner or ex partner as a friend where you show up as your most authentic Knecht itself, honoring your truth without expecting anyone else to change.

Okay, because the only humans we have control over are ourselves. All right. Have a beautiful rest of your week. I love you. And I'll talk to you next week.



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