District 14 Mental Health Awareness
2020 - 2021 Year
Approach Difficult Conversations with Comfort and Confidence - 25Sep20
Mental Health Moment:
Adding Comfort and Confidence to Difficult Conversations
By Kimberly Crowell, Michelle Lloyd, Tinashe’ Spriggs, and Joseph Galus
Everyone has had a difficult or uncomfortable conversation in their life. The impact of keeping our concerns hidden sometimes can outweigh the uncertainty of having a challenging conversation. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to make these difficult conversations easier?
What causes these conversations to occur?
Everyone has values about how the world should operate or how the world is. When these values and beliefs are not aligned, it creates a lack of harmony in our world. Our need to gain an understanding or agreeably solve these issues pushes us to engage in these difficult chats.
Why can these conversations be so challenging?
We may think we have too much to lose, and the fallout from having this dialogue is not worth the effort in having the conversation. We might have had negative experiences in the past and figure those trends will continue if a conversation occurs again. We also tend to hope these difficult problems away instead of taking action to rectify situations.
What can we do now?
There are a multitude of strategies to engage in these difficult conversations. Here are three steps to approach the conversation:
• First off, be confident that you can maintain your composure during the dialogue.
• Secondly, be sure that you have delivered a clear message of the problem confronting you.
• Lastly, maintain emotional control throughout the conversation by “checking the temperature” of all parties involved.
Remember, the discussion might require some negotiation or some give-and-take moments where it may feel as if our positions are being attacked or we’re being provoked. If this occurs, make sure you take the time to actively listen and maintain a tone for openness and honesty to where everyone can speak their views without risk of ramifications.
Recognition of differing viewpoints from all parties involved in difficult conversations helps the relationship grow. When we engage in tough chats, we let others know the relationship is valuable. Even if there are disagreements, convey that each individual is valued and your interest in keeping the relationship on a solid foundation through mutual respect, trust, empathy, and compassionate listening.
Carlo S. Davis