Do the words “we need to talk about this” fill you with dread? Do you put off talking to people about difficult subjects? Or do you go into them head-on and end up clashing with people? Truth is, most people avoid challenging conversations for fear of what might happen. The problem is that we don’t address challenges if we don’t have those conversations though. So why do we avoid them? Here’s 5 reasons why you might not be alone in avoiding challenging conversations:

1. We fear confrontation

So many of us are afraid of how someone will react to a challenging conversation. So, we worry about confronting someone about something we know we need to talk to them about. This is made even harder if that person is in a dominant position to us. People who are senior to us, people from dominant groups and people who are generally different to us make us fear talking to people about the things that matter. The problem is, if we don’t have these conversations, then issues do not get addressed.

2. We worry about being disliked

When we have to talk to people about difficult subjects, we worry that the conversation will lead to the person we are talking to disliking us as a result. These conversations are about difficult subjects and it might be that we need to give them some negative feedback. Or it might be that we’re going to tell them something they don’t want to hear. So, we worry that the conversation will make the person dislike us. And then this fear often stops us from approaching those conversations. What we need to do is think about ways to approach conversations like this so that the outcome is positive.

3. We’re not sure how to approach it

A common problem is knowing that we need to have a conversation with someone about something, but we don’t know how. Then we delay it, and avoid it when it would be better to prepare and have the conversation. We often don’t know about what to prepare, or how to structure the conversation. So the thought of it scares us, and as a result we avoid it. By doing this, all we’re doing is delaying a conversation that we need to have.

4. We’re not sure we’re the right person

When there are difficult situations to address and discuss in a conversation, we can often talk ourselves into thinking that we’re not the right person to be having that conversation. This is a version of imposter syndrome, where we think were not in a position to have this conversation. The truth is, we should all be able to have conversations with people to address challenging situations.

5. We worry about reactions

What this all really comes down to, is that we are worried about what we can’t control. We worry about other people’s reactions to the issue or challenge we need to talk to them about. We do not know how they might react, Or we might think we know from discussions we have had with that person before. And we can’t control other people’s reactions. What we can do is structure conversations to help everyone.

The truth is, being able to deal with challenging conversations is an essential business skill. It is invaluable in maintaining good relationships, a good reputation and in retaining business. We need to be able to have conversations with people who are different to us. We need to address issues that occur or behaviour that we need to address. So we need to work on how to have those conversations.  

That’s why we have developed our Challenging Conversations training course. We will look at how you can approach challenging conversations and situations and feel confident in being able to handle them. You will learn how to prepare for conversations, how to manage emotions and feel more confident in dealing with them effectively. Email for more details. Because we need to have those conversations that matter.