Let’s face it, we would all rather avoid uncomfortable feelings if it were at all possible. This includes avoiding tough conversations. When we feel hurt or vulnerable, our first response is often to do anything we can to move away from that feeling. We might be choosing to be burying our heads in the sand and pretending something isn’t happening; focusing on other things; getting lost in people pleasing and losing sight of our boundaries; or deflecting with defensiveness and blaming. But are these behaviours really helping you?
While our instinct might be to turn away from the uncertainty and perceived risk involved in having a tough conversation, the probability is that this moves you further away from the outcome you want to achieve.
Here are three good reasons to take a deep breath and start that conversation about the tricky topic that’s been on your mind.
- Feeling understood
If you’re choosing to be staying quiet about an issue, then you’re forcing someone else into mindreading you and taking a wild guess at what your behaviours could mean. Now, we’re pretty terrible at mindreading as human beings but we’ll give it a jolly good go, won’t we? So you can see how unlikely it is that the other person is going to hit the nail on the head and figure out what’s up. And what if they start acting as if the story they’ve made up is true? The only way to help someone else understand your perspective –and motivate them to make any changes- is by being open. Yes, that feels a little scary and uncomfortable. But don’t all acts of bravery?
- Peace of mind
Not speaking about our challenges doesn’t make them go away; instead it leaves us with half a story to chew over and multiply into something it’s not. In choosing to avoid talking about difficult situations, not only are you leaving space for someone else to make up stories about what your behaviours mean, you’re doing the same for yourself. Without clarifying another person’s perspective and intentions, you’re probably going to assume the worst and you might even start to feel like you’re being purposefully ‘attacked’. What does this do for you? Nothing but intensifying the hurt you’re already feeling. You might be surprised at what’s really going on for the other person when you get curious and start to ask some questions to fill in the blanks.
- Building trust
Showing you have the courage to speak up, ask questions and work through challenges with others is guaranteed to build trust between you and your partner, friends or employer. You’re proving that you are willing to do what you feel is the right thing even when it’s uncomfortable and the outcome is uncertain. It’s doing what’s most aligned with your values and who you really are deep down, rather than what’s quick or easy. Sure, they might not always like it, but you’ll be acting with integrity, and that is something to be deeply respected.
Having a tough conversation is never going to feel easy or comfortable. They will always come from a place of courage. But you can certainly get used to leaning into that discomfort and seeing it as an opportunity for increasing understanding; practising courage; and being true to who you really are.