Tackling Unpleasant Conversations: The Band-Aid Method

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:

  1. Don’t avoid the problem. It’s not going away, and you’ll only cause unnecessary anxiety and worry by pushing off confrontation.
  2. Go to the source. Rather than wonder, guess, speculate, or debate, just ask. Talk to the person directly.
  3. 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.
  4. Start problem solving. Rather than act passively with uncertainty, take control once feelings are in the open and move forward.
  5. 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.

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