Brighton Leadership Group

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Stop Having Difficult Conversations

Stop talking about having a difficult conversation or having a hard conversation. You are setting yourself up for a less productive interaction.

Words set the stage. By saying you are going to have a difficult conversation, you are setting the stage for difficulty. When you say, “I have to have a hard conversation,” your brain will pay attention and prepare to be defensive. Wouldn’t you have a better interaction if you were open and engaged versus closed and defensive?

What could you say to set the stage for a positive interaction?

  • STOP: saying difficult, hard, challenging, etc.
  • START: saying aligning, reconciling, connection…make up your own positive reframe.

The words that you choose set off a chain reaction. We move quickly from a chemical sensation in our brain, to a feeling, to a thought, to meaning, to assumption, to a conclusion. Think about what you are stimulating in your mind when you want to be at your best.

Reframe the concept of “hard conversations.” Call them reconciling conversations. You are reconciling what you see, feel, know, believe with what the other person sees, feels, and knows. Pause and feel the difference as you think about a hard conversation versus a reconciling conversation.

Spoken words prime your brain and the brain of the person you are talking with. Focus on achieving a positive, mutually beneficial outcome versus the challenge of getting through the conversation and you will achieve what you intend.

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