A.k.a Dealing with the Elephant in the Room
Telling your partner you want a divorce, requesting a raise, challenging unpleasant behaviour, asking for what you really want and being vulnerable enough to admit you need help are all examples of life scenarios where we avoid the proverbial elephant in the room. You know that avoiding the elephant will only prolong a difficult situation, but talking about said pachyderm may also cause some short term discomfort, so you continue the avoidance pattern.
We’ve all been there.
Experience has taught me that frank and honest communication is the only way to live life fully and authentically. Often however, we’ve been taught (especially if you’re female) that it’s not ok to speak your mind or ask for what you want. So we don’t, until we can’t not.
I often coach clients to communicate better in order for them to get to the next level of life that they desire. This might mean supporting them as they challenge toxic workplace dynamics, open up a fresh dialogue with an emotionally distant spouse or cut ties with relationships entirely.
Manoeuvring around elephants can be tricky, but in the long run, it’s almost always necessary.
Here are 5 strategies for instigating difficult conversations:
- Get clear on what you want the outcome of the conversation to be. This might range from the other person simply acknowledging your needs through to a firm plan for creating change.
- Schedule the conversation in with the other person so they’re not blindsided by it. Ask them when would be a good time to talk, or book an appointment in their diary.
- Emotioanlly centre yourself beforehand so you speak from a place of openess and calm (try my 5 Minute Stress Reset to help you)
- Listen to what the other person has to say and acknowledge it, even if you don’t agree.
- Ask open questions such as, “how do you see this arrangement working?”, “what can I do to make this easier for you?”, “what would it take for you to agree to this?”.
Taking the time to understand the point of view of the person on the other side of the elephant (even when you don’t want to) opens the channels for honest conversations which make life better all round. Being courageous enough to start a difficult conversation might just be the start of something great.
Need some help navigating the elephants of change in your life? Get in touch with me here.