Mastering Hard Conversations

Can we talk about the four Totinos pizzas, two packages of double stuffed Oreos and the one gallon jug of Blue Bell Double Fudge Mint ice cream currently residing in my kitchen? They are the blaring alarm horns that something isn’t right in my life. Instead of handling a difficult situation – especially one that involves a hard conversation – I will stock pile ALL the comfort food. (In my defense, they pizza’s were on sale, 4 for something.) I find it much easier to complain about my growing waistline than to face a conflict in a friendship. At least with the stocked fridge I know exactly what the outcome will be.

What was the trigger for my latest food hoarding outbreak? I was having an issue with a dear friend stirring up feelings of insecurity and frustration. I let the issue build up to the comfort food level out of fear that my honesty would lead to disapproval and maybe even an end to the relationship. What if I made her mad or damaged the relationship?

Finally, I realized that I could not let the issue go on. My friend had no clue how I was feeling and it was affecting the way I was interacting with her. I bravely and cautiously picked up the phone and calmly explained what I was upset about, what was hurting my feelings and where my insecurity was showing up – not having a clue how the conversation was going to end…

Are you in a similar circumstance where you feel uncomfortable, angsty, insecure and you’d rather dive into the half gallon of ice cream than dive into the hard conversation? I wonder if you would bravely consider calmly sitting with your thoughts, understand what words or actions triggered your hard to face feelings, and lean into a heart to heart conversation with your friend. Start with, “I’m upset about something and I wonder if we could talk about it.” It might be a hard conversation and you will go into it not knowing what will happen.

Living authentically is going in bravely not knowing or having control over the outcome.

You have people in your life who will meet you in this hard place with kindness and grace. They love you and desire to deepen the relationship with you. If they know you are hurting, they will listen patiently and work toward building a stronger bridge.  

You also have people that may not take the news so well. They are often the people we don’t want to disappoint, make angry or receive disapproval from. They are the very reason we avoid being honest.

To combat the fear, shift the way you think about approaching the hard conversation. Instead of thinking of it as a “conflict” think of it as “gathering information.”  With a more heart’s off approach, you have the opportunity to gather enough information to decide if this a relationship you want to keep investing in, or one that you need to be proceed with caution. The “gathering information” approach allows you to carefully sit back and examine three things:

  1. the words being spoken to you
  2. how you respond 
  3. the feelings you are experiencing as a result

Paying careful attention to these details will tell you if you are in a healthy relationship or a relationship in need of some boundaries or distance.

I’m so grateful to report my friend handled it like a champ! We were able to have a real and honest conversation. We worked towards building an even more solid foundation. We are two incredible people who see the world very differently. I was able to hear an entirely different perspective on the topic and opened her heart to hear mine. We learned a lot about each other and it’s since changed the way we communicate and understand each other. Our friendship was strengthened through the small act of bravery and authenticity.

Relationships are hard and sometimes scary. You can try to avoid the hard conversations, but won’t avoid the hard truths that some people in your life are not safe, and the relationship will continue down a hurtful path if some issues are handled.

Being brave, gathering information and speaking your truth are important foundations to living authentically and losing your need for approval and those Totino’s can be saved for another day.

For more on Authenticity Over Approval visit my website at LoriYoungSpeaker.com

 

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