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Your Guide to Hard Conversations, Mind Your Mindset

Hard talks are hard business. So it’s time to address that 800-pound gorilla in the room—those wicked-hard conversations we dodge like tax season. You know what I mean, those throat-clenching, sweat-inducing talks we don’t want to face?

The truth is, we can’t go around the hard conversations. We must go through them. Let’s face it; hard conversation are the wicked step sister to growth. They be hard as hell, but it’s a package deal.

As we continue to level up, you will outgrow spaces that you once fit in. You will outgrow roles, companies, and even friendships – because they were connected to/fitted with the old version of you. It’s not that you are “better’ than them. But you are different. And that can make a lot of difference.

Bethany, a client of mine, recently had to battle a rough talk. She’s a healthcare whizz from Texas who’d outgrown her old role and was itching to start her own business. She was ready, with the exception of having ‘the talk’ with the owner.

Bethany was stuck in a nasty cycle of procrastination, worrying about all the ‘what ifs’ and ‘how-tos.’ Sound familiar?

Let me teach you how to master- not the words to say- but your own emotional response.

Once you do that, you will solve 80% of the hard conversation.

Step 1: Mindset Makeover.

Stop obsessing over outcomes. It’s your approach, clarity, and compassion that count. Ditch the drama and repeating the conversation in your head before you have it. The other person’s response? It doesn’t really matter. Take the next right step, but if you spend too much time on their possible response- you lose your oomf.

Not your circus, not your monkeys.

Step 2: Fast-Forward Mentality

You must think past the ‘Hard Thing.’ Pretend the conversation is already over, and whatever you do, avoid getting stuck in the messy details – they won’t help you.  How will you feel once it’s done? Settle in there, not the messy middle.

Step 3: Act Swiftly

Bite the bullet and get it over with. The sooner you rip off that band-aid, the quicker your pain subsides. It also allows the other party time to adjust.  Waiting for the “right” time, means you are waiting for, well forever.

Step 4: The Sandwich Approach

Yes, yes, that old thing but with a lemon twist. But done well and with sincerity, it really can soften the blow.  Let’s cover the meat and the bread:

1.  Acknowledge what went well / what you liked / sincere compliment

2.  Hard news – opportunity for change/improvement/or a necessary ending

3.  Compliment or guidance on next steps

Start on a high note, deliver the needed pivot, and end on a promising note.

Step 5: Part on Good Terms as Much as Possible

Look for a reasonable way to serve them on the way and help them with your exit. Make sure you still maintain good boundaries and clear expectations though.  Don’t muddy the waters now. They might refuse your offer of help, and that’s okay. Be connected to your intention and having the hard conversation as well as can be.

Step 6: De-Bunk Your B.S. Stories

Struggling with guilt? Write down your feelings and question them ruthlessly. If it’s not true, toss it out.  For example- is it true they won’t be able to get another job in this city? Nah. Is this news really going to “destroy them”- likely not. We need to see things as they are. Not worse than they are. Don’t let your “guilt” over having a hard conversation amplify the impact of the hard conversation in your mind.

An excellent life, a high-performing life, and a life in community with other humans- involve having hard conversations.  And they are best had early and often. The longer you wait, the more pain you cause yourself, threaten the relationship (hello resentment!) and the more they will feel blindsided. It’s time to confront hard conversations with guts and gusto. The more you delay, the more the pain amplifies. Now, go out there and be a conversation boss!

This article first appeared on April Garcia’s LinkedIn profile:

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