5 Tips For Having Those Difficult Conversations

Communication is a skill, whether the conversations are easy or difficult. Difficult conversations might be the scariest of all. 

Talking about difficult subjects with people can be scary, awkward, or difficult. It’s a lot easier when you want to share happy feelings. It can be a challenge when you’re struggling to find the right words because you want to talk about tough subjects. Check out these tips to have difficult conversations.

Having a difficult conversation is hard work. It can take some courage to face these situations head-on. Avoiding problems can lead to anger, frustration, stress, or anxiety. Think about how you will feel after you have the conversation you might be dreading. Having situations handled and not hanging over your head can be freeing.

Check out these 5 tips to have difficult conversations.

1. Validate Your Feelings

For some people, it’s hard to share feelings because we think they are not worthy, or valid. Maybe they are not important enough to trouble someone with. Validate yourself here. No matter how small, your feelings, and thoughts matter. You have the right to assertively communicate with people about things that matter to you.

2. Be Assertive 

What Is Assertiveness?

Assertiveness is a skill that means demonstrating healthy confidence where you state your rights and stand up for yourself in a respectful manner. You are taking care of yourself by looking out for yourself.

Steps To Being Assertive 

  • Ask for you want or need respectfully
  • It is ok to say “No”
  • Speak your mind
  • Remember that you are not responsible for the other party’s response
  • You have a right to your feelings 
  • Use “I” statements when speaking
  • Don’t apologize for your feelings or needs.

3. Practice For Tough Conversations

If expression of your feelings is not something you have done often it may feel awkward, but practicing helps you get better at it. Take it in small steps a little at a time. The more you rehearse how you would like to express yourself in these moments the easier it will be.

4. Timing Is Everything

Check-in with the other party in advance. Just because you are ready to talk does not mean it is the right moment in time for who you are about to talk with. Check with them first and arrange to talk at a time that works for both of you. 

5.  Listen To Everyone In The Conversation

Difficult conversations are not one-sided. Part of sharing with people is listening. Be a good listener and keep an open mind for the opinions and ideas of those you talk to. It can be hard depending on the emotion of the conversation. Use control and restraint and actually hear those you are speaking with. Your communication will be enhanced. 

Talking about your problems can be intimidating and nerve-wracking. Getting comfortable with difficult conversations comes from practice. Learning to communicate assertively helps make these situations far less stressful.

Facing things head-on is part of self-mastery. It is comforting to know that even in difficult situations you are capable of speaking your thoughts and ideas in a calm collected manner. Maintaining control of yourself and all situations you are in can help with feeling in control of life. Even in situations where you are not the one in control of everything 

In all situations, do your best to stay calm, maintain eye contact, and be civil. When handled correctly, and assertively difficult conversations will lead to better communication and stronger relationships. 

With these tools, you will be well prepared to have difficult conversations.

Mindset/Strenghts Personal Growth

How Your Thoughts Influence Your Reactions

Have you ever stopped to think about your reactions to things? Or, do you just let your emotions and your feelings determine how you actually respond to something? What’s quite interesting is just how much your thoughts influence your reactions to events.

There are quite a few reasons for this actually. It’s really a combination of past experiences, assumptions and predictions, and a little bit of impulsivity.

Let’s go over how each of these can influence your thoughts and, thus, your reactions in life.

Past Experiences

When it comes to developing your thoughts, one of the key influencers would be your past experiences. Your past experiences can include just about anything, like the parenting style used to raise you, your socioeconomic status, whether you experienced abuse, and traumatic events you may have witnessed firsthand.

These experiences help to shape who you are today.

Let’s say you grew up with verbally abusive parents and harbor resentment toward them and abusers in general.

Now as an adult, if you find yourself in a situation where you feel as if you’re being ostracised or bullied for who you are, your reaction might vary wildly.

There’s a possibility that you’ll withdraw and avoid these new people that make you think of your abusive parents. Or, you might stand up for yourself like you wish somebody would’ve done when you were a child.

Either way, there’s a pretty good chance your mind inadvertently went to thoughts you have about your past and your parents before formulating a response to this situation.

tilt-shift photography of person in brown jacket

Assumptions & Predictions

When you develop your personality and your own individual thought processes, you’ll also begin to develop your own assumptions and predictions. Now, these can be based on things you’ve experienced without even knowing it. You might just be able to analyze a situation and assume what will happen next.

These can greatly influence your reactions.

Let’s say you witnessed a traumatic car accident as a child and now have a lingering fear about cars and pedestrians.

As an adult, you’re walking down the street and notice a car barreling toward a pedestrian in the road. Since your mind might automatically go back to the thoughts about that traumatic event from your childhood, your reaction will vary.

Maybe you’ll jump out into the road to pull the pedestrian out of the road. Or, maybe you’ll just run away in shock as history repeats itself.

But, these reminders from your past will definitely influence how you react.


There’s also a pretty good possibility that you respond to things purely out of impulsivity. That means you come up with your own feelings about an event rather quickly and act without even a second thought. In this case, you really didn’t have a thought to rely on.

This might encourage you to act when you normally wouldn’t.

Let’s say you witness a crime being committed as an adult.

Instead of thinking about what you should do or whether or not you should call the police, you immediately jump in and attempt to apprehend the suspect. You didn’t have any thoughts here, only relying on your own instincts to respond to the situation at hand.

woman biting pencil while sitting on chair in front of computer during daytime

Final Thoughts

The reactions you have in life are based on a lot more than just the personality that you’ve developed. They’re actually formulated based on the thoughts you have regarding past experiences, assumptions, and a sense of impulsivity.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to settle for the reactions you’re used to. After all, there’s a lot that you can do right now to begin shifting your perspective and to gain a little empathy.

So, take a little time to think about how you feel before actually responding to things in your life.

Struggling with your reactions? Like to be able to control your thoughts and feelings so you can react differently? I’d love to help you. Schedule a free clarity call with me now