Earlier this week, I had a tricky conversation with a family member. I talk to my family regularly, but this particular conversation related to money, which is always an interesting subject. I found out about a misunderstanding, of which I was completely unaware, by an uninvolved third party. Already, it felt awkward and gossipy. The news threw me off-guard, and I reacted strongly. One thing was certain: I needed to face the situation head-on to avoid further miscommunication or he-said she-said.
Feeling guilty, I questioned my previous words and actions. How did this mix-up happen? The issue couldn’t be avoided. Delaying the conversation would only make it worse, so I vowed to make the call the next day. Feeling anxious, I went for it. I dialed the number before I could think twice. Less than 10 minutes later, all was out in the open and we could move forward with a plan rather than hard feelings. After the conversation I reflected on what went well. Below are a few takeaways that might help with future, less pleasant, conversations.
When dealing with uncomfortable situations:
- Don’t avoid the problem. It’s not going away, and you’ll only cause unnecessary anxiety and worry by pushing off confrontation.
- Go to the source. Rather than wonder, guess, speculate, or debate, just ask. Talk to the person directly.
- Act quickly. Putting off difficult conversations means more build up and longer periods of unsettled feelings. Have the conversation; emotions will only fester if you wait.
- Start problem solving. Rather than act passively with uncertainty, take control once feelings are in the open and move forward.
- Focus on the positive. Tough conversations are never fun, but they can lead to positive relationship building. Connecting with another person, facing a challenge together, being honest and communicating openly – all of these are great takeaways from an otherwise unpleasant interaction.
Rip off the band-aid (figuratively). Make the call. Say your piece. Smile – you can now move on with your life.