Do you remember that yearning during childhood, to instantly grow up so you could make rules and do whatever you want? You lived blissfully ignorant to the endless responsibilities of adulthood.

Now, of course, you realize the challenges of adulting. One challenge that far too many adults take serious measures to avoid is participating in difficult conversations.

Anticipating a heavy convo can fill you with angst. Knowing how to approach the situation will help.

How to Address Difficult Conversations

Needing to talk to somebody should never result in avoidance. In order to develop healthy relationships, whether personal, work-related or otherwise, you need to learn how to effectively communicate difficult content. Use the following advice to clear the elephant from the room.

Prep Yourself

Do not use this important conversation as a time to sort ramble through every feeling as it comes. You need to mentally prepare yourself ahead of time if possible. 

Remember that emotions are fleeting. Give yourself time to process feelings, such as anger and resentment, so they do not cloud your judgment or lead you to say something you truly don’t mean. As Blake & Schanbacker Law points out, you never want to do this during an active fight, for this reason.

Allow yourself to feel the emotions and then release them. This will allow logic and reason to control your thoughts so you know exactly what you need to say. Figuring out your standpoint midconversation might leave you and the other person feeling confused.

Equip Yourself

Don’t go into this thing unarmed! Equip yourself with all the tools you may need: including:

  • facts
  • breathing exercises to keep yourself calm
  • tangible proof

Each will assist you in keeping the conversation on track and coherent. You especially want this equipment for firing an employee or other serious professional matters.

Set the Stage

You probably want to skip the divorce talk at church or the company downsizing at the office party. Set up an appropriate time and place with the other person.

Strive for:

  • comfort
  • privacy
  • a wide-open time slot

Stay mindful of both schedules to avoid dropping a bomb before the little one’s birthday party.

Open Up

Choose an opening statement suitable for the type of conversation. We need to talk might cause angst without much detail. Try asking if you two can talk about the specific topic.

Communicate Effectively

You want to feel heard, and so will they. Avoid scripting the conversation ahead of time. Rather make bullet points of the important points you want to relay.

Say what you need to say and then actively listen by:

  • attentively maintaining eye contact
  • letting them speak without interruption
  • nodding appropriately
  • verbally reaffirming important points they make
  • waiting for a pause to ask clarifying questions

Avoid judging them for the way they feel. Use “I” statements, rather than “you” statements so they do not feel blamed. Also, focus on your tone.

Try to put yourself in their shoes before you choose to disagree. Remember that communication should always flow back and forth.

Get It Off Your Chest

Holding on to all of your thoughts and feelings will not make them go away. You need to address difficult conversations in order to resolve things.

We hope this guide helps you adult like a pro! Find more lifestyle tips on our page.