Setting You Up for Having Successful Difficult Conversations

Having Difficult Conversations

Setting You Up for Having Successful Difficult Conversations

Knowing there is a difficult conversation can create anxiety and stop you from taking the first step. The fundamental purpose of the human brain is survival. The brain consistently predicts the worst outcome as a function of our safety. It never paints a positive picture preparing us to survive the worst-case scenario. We operate as the story our brain is telling us is real. It’s not – it’s doing its job to keep us safe. Understanding this can free you up to take the first step.   

Very few people are comfortable with what we label as ‘negative emotions’. Most of us have emotions we react to which stops us from having difficult conversations. Most of us are not empowered when dealing with someone being upset or angry with us. We fear making the situation worse or rocking the boat. Relationships cannot grow beyond this emotional response. This produces an outcome of more of the same – distance, frustration, isolation, and defensiveness.

Resistance is a barrier to authentic communication. Resistance is pervasive. When you want a situation or circumstances to be different than what it is, you are resisting. Many of us wish the people in our lives were a little more of this and a little less of that. 

How Honouring Governance Fits into the Picture

Key governance structures for family enterprise are declared and defined family values. A code of conduct is designed to minimize conflict and grow the health of the relationships. You can use both as the foundation (ground rules) for a productive difficult conversation. 

Here are some ways you can embrace honouring governance:

Being courageously accountable, you can own the impact you had on them. 

• You can share the impact they had on you.
• You must be willing to see the impact and speak about it free of criticism and judgment. Doing that requires being on purpose.
• Take time to reflect and increase self-awareness.
• You can ask yourself, “what is it I am not seeing? How could I see this differently?”

Human on automatic is when our brain is driving our behaviours. The human brain automatically minimizes and denies the impact we have on others and will fight to be right about their perspective at the expense of love and affinity. To see anything new, you must first be willing to do see the other perspectives.

The Keys to Productive Difficult Conversations

The only place you and I, and every human being, has authentic control is who we are being. Most people live under the effect of circumstances. This means outside conditions and circumstances determine our state. For example, if our weight is down or our bank account is up, we are happy. If the conversation goes well, we are empowered. If it doesn’t, we are disempowered.  

Most people are unaware that we have the power to generate their way of being. You must operate deliberately – on purpose to develop yourself. It is an underdeveloped muscle for most people.

Humans on purpose generate their way of being deliberately aligned with the results they are committed to producing. Ask yourself: who could I be that would produce the results I want?

How Difficult Conversations Can Produce Key Results:

• Being curious naturally has you asking questions and listening to understand. The result: understanding.
• Being accepting of – who they are and who they are not, of the situation as it is and if you have responded openly. The result: connection, even love and affinity.
• Being responsible naturally has you owning how you have impacted them and others. The result: partnership – being on the same side with solutions and choices.

Intentionally being in ways of being aligned with the results you want gives access for the other to safely step into the conversation free of the automatic defensiveness and anxiety. It may not be possible to quantify the impact this has on the relationship, tone of the conversation, and outcomes produced. Predictably, it will increase your success rate at having productive difficult conversations. 


Take on being an innovative space for communication. We become defensive and unavailable when those emotions show up. Your job? Start those difficult conversations, and watch what begins to happen. 

If you’re ready to unlock that conversational power, let’s book a consultation today!


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