“I don’t wanna. Not really. I mean… I do but, you know… what do I even say?”
“They’re going to stop loving me if I tell them.”
“How do I bring this up without pissing them off?”
“Money just isn’t something we talk about… ever.”
“They only said that because I’ve said/done worse to them before.”
“Are they even going to understand why?”
Any of that sound familiar?
That “pre-talk” talk you have with yourself before having a difficult conversation or when you’re trying to justify why you’re avoiding one. I do it. I’m willing to say that I think most of us have had a moment such as this and sometimes, depending on your circumstances, they happen often. A debate with yourself means that a topic is important to you and you want to bring it up but aren’t entirely sure how. Ever wanted to ask your boss for a raise and end up backing down? Why? Probably because it’s a difficult conversation to have but if you get the facts together and present them in the appropriate way at the correct time, they could say yes. But they could also say no, huh? That’s the problem, isn’t it? A fear of potential rejection. That’s hard for a lot of people. It’s hard for me because I have had a tendency to value other’s opinions of me over my own (something I’ve been working on for a long time). Ever the entertainer. Wanting to be likable. Friendly to a fault. Maybe you’re not having difficulty with your boss. Some people want to leave a significant other or discuss a certain type of behavior they exhibit but find it difficult to approach that discussion. Some kids are still scared to come out to their parents. Other people have difficulty asking for help when they need it. They’re worried about the conversation that needs to happen. Or where they’ll end up when the dust settles. This is why having that conversation with yourself, first, is just as important as the conversation with them. Consider possible outcomes and be ready to keep the conversation on track if it veers off. Focus on the important and come to a resolution.
I should make it a point to say that difficult conversations do not always end as terribly as we imagine they might and the outcome may pleasantly surprise you. I’ve learned through experience that any time where I hit a road block or had a moment of self-realization, it can be an excellent opportunity for personal growth. Difficult conversations, whether with a boss, parent, significant other or yourself provide these opportunities for growth. Your boss denied your raise after giving them all the facts about what you’ve contributed to the bottom line? Congratulations on learning that perhaps your contributions are not in line with the company goals or that they will never be valued the way you feel they should. Maybe you’ve been wasting time in a place when you could have been thriving in another. You, now, know what it is you have to do.
Those relationships where you feel you’re giving your all and not getting it back. You know the ones. Is your relationship truly give and take? Does this person reach out to you or do you feel like you’re chasing them through a maze while they make no attempts to leave bread crumbs? Are they even curious about your thoughts and feelings? Have they asked? Does it feel like they forget you exist unless you’re sitting in front of their face? Or even while you’re sitting there? Congratulations on realizing that maybe this isn’t the relationship you’re looking for and that you may never be valued in it the way that you should. Maybe you’ve been wasting time on a person when you could have been thriving with another. You, now, know what it is you have to do.
Perhaps the conversation was with yourself about tendencies that you have and how you must begin to do better. Maybe it’s you who has been unwilling (read: scared) to change or embrace growing in a new direction. You’ve been doing the same thing over and over again, hoping that things would get better on their own. Always consider the cause of the conversation. Whatever the reason for the conversation and despite how you feel in the moment, use these opportunities to look for and embrace not just change but growth. That is, of course, if you are really looking to grow.
“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” – Tim Ferriss
Deciding who to have those conversations with and when is important. Not just seeking them out but allowing them to happen when they come. Don’t shy away from the difficult conversations and push them off until later. There’s never going to be the “perfect” time to have them and we sometimes use this as our excuse to avoid them altogether. Choose growth in that moment. Be willing to embrace change for the better.