Dealing with Difficult Conversations
“John, I’m sorry but you are doing the exercise all wrong.”
Nobody likes to hear when they are doing something wrong—especially when it is coming from their personal trainer!
I recently wrote about my hip replacement surgery, and how important it’s been to strengthen my core. My trainer understands that our body’s core is the place where all of our inner strength will arise from—at least physically speaking.
Well, this week my trainer was all over me about the correct form in specific exercises.
“You are doing it that way to avoid the pain you feel when you do it right.”
He nailed me.
I was “doing” the exercise, but only the way that seemed to mitigate my pain level. Doing it the trainer’s way could be excruciating at times. I guess that was the point.
No one likes pain. Pain is the brain’s clear signal that something is wrong! It’s totally understandable to back away from what doesn’t feel good. In fact, it’s the body’s natural response.
So why was my trainer purposefully asking me to lean into the pain?
“What are you trying to accomplish here?” he directly asked me.
Wasn’t it obvious?
I answered quickly, “I am trying to build muscle. Strengthen my core. Get my balance back. Gain endurance.”
“Well, if that’s your goal—more pain will lead to more gain. By increasing the right amount of pressure in the right places over time, we will build all of that and see the results you want to see. You can have it the easy way, but you won’t see the results you are looking for.”
I knew he was right—taking the easy path wasn’t going to get me there.
I want to turn that same question around to you. What are you trying to accomplish when it comes to dealing with difficult conversations in your life?
Let me share with you an incredible truth—one that I’ve seen transform the lives and businesses of those that truly embrace it. The truth is hard to swallow, but it’s absolutely accurate.
Dealing with difficult conversations is the most powerful exercise you can do to develop the following things in your life:
Overcoming Shame & Negative Self-Talk
Self-Motivation and Regulation
Difficult conversations actually strengthen ALL of these things. And that’s the real purpose of painful exercises done correctly. They are meant to strengthen the muscles that need to be strengthened.
Let’s take relationships for example. What’s at the heart of healthy connection? It is being able to really see and hear one another and relate authentically.
How do you learn to do that?
More often than not, you learn it by listening. Learning to listen to, and not just hear, the other person is critical to establishing and growing a genuine relationship.
But what happens when you are listening to something you don’t like? Or that you simply don’t agree with? If you blow up at that moment you may damage the relationship. That is why you have to learn how to manage your emotions.
To develop those relationships even deeper, all of us must learn to face inevitable conflict more masterfully, manage our emotions, and motivate ourselves to sow into the connection—even when we don’t feel like it.
The above things can happen sporadically over time—or, we can learn to embrace the ache whenever we encounter the inevitable difficult conversations at work, church, our living rooms, or even the gym.
Awkward conversation, diverging viewpoints, opposing expectations—those sound like a phenomenal training ground to me!
These uncomfortable scenarios, rightly seen, are springboards to strengthening many of the things that will actually make you more successful in every sphere of life.
They can help you—
- Become a better listener.
- Learn how to share with and listen to those you disagree with while maintaining civility.
- Manage your expectations.
- Learn to be concise.
And these are just a few off of the top of my head!
The conflict that exists in difficult conversations isn’t easy. There’s no “easy button” to make it all go away. That said, understanding the larger goal of growing your emotional intelligence will give you the vision to endure and become the person you want to become.
In time, you’ll actually begin to see more than just solving the problem at hand—you will see the larger goal of growing as a person day by day.
There’s more and more research showing that emotional intelligence is directly tied to your happiness. That is because emotional intelligence is all about relational connection and learning to manage your heart.
Dealing with difficult conversations is certainly the road less traveled.
If I choose a path to avoid pain, I’m going to become a meandering river that will never get to my desired destination.
Life is hard. But if I choose the path that will at times be painful—I will grow into the person I want to become. I will continue to develop the life-skills that will serve me on multiple levels.
Working the muscle will be painful, but it is a willful choice with an incredible upside.
I want to encourage you that the long-term gain is worth the short-term discomfort. Success, healthier relationships, pleasure, and overall happiness will chase you down as you lean into conflict, especially through the conflict found in difficult conversations.
There are powerful tools that can really help you become more effective at dealing with difficult conversations, and we at Ember Learning are here to help. With over 25 years of professional consulting in top businesses around the country, we want to share some of our top insights with you.
Download our FREE PDF “15 Ways to Turn Hard Conversations into Win-Win Dialogue” now!