Difficult conversation

January 2023

⚠️ WIP. I need to rephrase myself in a few places for extra clarity. I am publishing nevertheless until then for the usefulness.

First, don't let people come in too close too fast. I have found saying "let's take a breath and not 'create tension'/'let each other speak' relieving. It lets the latter know I wasn't intimidated and reaffirmed my position as an equal.

Second, empathize that everyone in the room is correct. So it's not about that. It's about what you think is right for yourself. And your desire to have it. All your efforts are motivated by some aspirations in life. Do your fair assessment. If it can be let go, let go. If not, as arrogant of a ring as it has - stand your ground. The point of getting here is to not go back to where you were before.

Third, don't start a difficult conversation if you haven't gauged all possible ways it ends and prepared for the same. Play it in your head. Watch when it's coming for you. Prepare ASAP what to do if you suspect to be put in a difficult spot.

Fourth, if it comes to making a decision and you aren't sure yet what to decide, don't decide. If you can't decide alone, say that. Don't give in to the tension to end it. Easier said than done. But always more rewarding than being averse to conflict.

Fifth, too much truth said too directly builds up negative emotion. The goal is definitely not to be seen as a threat. Because you aren't. You only want to be fair to yourself. Be compassionate, speak generously, and don't hurt feelings. Don't use assertiveness to compensate for your anxiety. It'll bring out aggression. Act don't react. Avoid anything that would lead to cutting interaction between you and those in conflict with you. It took me time to learn.

Sixth, 'inform' you are considering walking out. It is necessary to communicate that you are willing to act in your best interest if the people you are negotiating with aren't. Walking out is not your end goal though. Do not bluff. Keep an open mind. Pay attention to the facts of the situation, not the emotions. Maybe you are just fighting a weak case? Always a possibility. All I am saying is it's gonna escalate from this point, so keep a cushion. Avoid doing this at all cost without a cushion. It'll hurt.

Seventh, avoid any immediate outcome as much as possible. It's hard to say at that moment if you are controlling your thoughts or got manipulated. Say "alright, let me reflect on all paths we discussed including the one we are settling to walk, and give a final word later"

Eighth, after it ends, with whatever outcome, be aware you did it to yourself. It was you. It's done. No regrets. Get up, wipe that sweat, sip some water, focus on what it means for you now, and move. If executed smartly, you know what to do next. You'll figure out if not.

Oh, by the way, much of that I learned in retrospect. I wasn't pleased with how I performed in difficult conversations until very recently. It took a while. And each built courage for the next one. With time power stops scaring you. That's a measure of you building your own. Keep playing :)