Tools for Difficult Conversations

Tools for Difficult Conversations

This week I’m getting to speak in Wimberley. The Chamber of Commerce is having it’s first ever small business week with a day of seminars and a day of exhibitions. The topic is difficult conversation tools so let’s chat about that that today.

As I prepared for the 1-hour workshop, I started by listing what does make conversations and conflict difficult at times:

  • Old pain and old stories that get triggered
  • Making the current conflict about way bigger themes instead of what is current
  • Getting defensive
  • Underlying shame getting triggered
  • Self protection patterns coming out as anger or avoidance or humor, etc.
  • Fear of rejection - leading to compromise or manipulation or sabotage
  • Emotions being so high that logic is difficult
  • Faulty thinking about oneself, the relationship, the world getting in the way

The list could continue but it is already overwhelming. It is almost more amazing that we ever actually can get through difficult conversations!

So, where to start if you want to make difficult conversations easier?

Prepare: Take time to prepare for potentially difficult conversations by reflecting and getting very specific with what you want to bring up. What are the 1 or 2 things that are core that you’d like to be heard on?

Discharge: Discharge some of the emotion by validating it for yourself - journaling is a great way to do this. Going in to a conversation expecting to be validated by the other person adds extra potential for the conversation to go sideways fast.

Listen: Be prepared to listen. One of the quickest ways to bring down someone’s defensiveness and anger is to actually hear them. Ask questions like “Can you tell me more?” or simply reflecting back what you are hearing, including the emotions, can really discharge their desire to escalate.

Take Turns: When we are trying to be heard at the same time as the other person, usually no one gets really heard. Delaying your response until they feel heard often simplifies or changes what you feel you need to say. When a conversation is really intense these turns can even be separated more severely. Listen to one person with no response and then take time to process.

Separate the Issue: Separate out the issue from the relationship. Whenever possible look at the upsetting issue or situation together as if it stands alone as something you can both brainstorm and strategize about. Two heads are better than one! Remembering that the issue is not the other person but a specific behavior or situation helps to keep it in perspective.

The absolute best relationships, highest functioning teams, companies, etc. have figured out how to embrace conflict and use it as an opportunity for growth and insight.

Are there difficult conversations you have been avoiding? What step are you willing to take next?

Until next week,


Marilyn Orr is a Professional Certified Coach, who, through her coaching business “Capacity Building Coaching”, thrives on building both personal and organization capacity through leadership coaching and development.

If you are reading this blogpost, but are not subscribed to “Marilyn’s Musings” weekly blogposts, you can sign up here:

(note: If you are having problems viewing images, click "Read in browser" below)

28 comments (Add your own)

1. wrote:
I'm truly enjoying the design and layout of your blog.
It's a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire
out a developer to create your theme? Exceptional work!

Sat, May 4, 2019 @ 10:36 AM

2. wrote:
Right here is the right website for anybody who wishes to find out about this topic.
You understand so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually would want to…HaHa).
You certainly put a fresh spin on a topic that's been written about
for ages. Wonderful stuff, just excellent!

Thu, May 9, 2019 @ 12:57 AM

3. wrote:
What's up, yup this paragraph is genuinely
pleasant and I have learned lot of things from it regarding blogging.

Thu, May 9, 2019 @ 5:16 AM

4. wrote:
Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful post.
Thanks for providing this info.

Thu, May 16, 2019 @ 9:15 AM

5. wrote:
At this time it looks like Wordpress is the
best blogging platform available right now.
(from what I've read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

Tue, May 28, 2019 @ 8:55 PM

6. wrote:
Howdy, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of
spam comments? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can advise?

I get so much lately it's driving me mad so any help is very
much appreciated.

Wed, May 29, 2019 @ 1:23 AM

7. wrote:
I needed to thank you for this fantastic read!!
I certainly loved every little bit of it. I have got you book
marked to look at new things you post…

Fri, June 7, 2019 @ 12:43 AM

8. wrote:
It's hard to find experienced people about this subject, but
you sound like you know what you're talking about!

Wed, June 12, 2019 @ 7:45 AM

9. wrote:
What i don't understood is in truth how you're not really
a lot more smartly-liked than you may be now. You're very intelligent.

You realize therefore significantly on the subject of this topic, made me in my opinion consider it from numerous
various angles. Its like women and men are not interested until it's one thing to do with
Woman gaga! Your personal stuffs excellent. At all times handle it up!

Mon, June 17, 2019 @ 4:37 PM

10. wrote:
Hi, i believe that i saw you visited my website so i came to return the
desire?.I am trying to to find issues to improve my website!I assume its good enough to make use of some of your ideas!!

Fri, July 19, 2019 @ 12:38 AM

11. wrote:
I'm not sure exactly why but this blog is loading incredibly slow for me.
Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end?
I'll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

Sun, July 21, 2019 @ 5:48 AM

12. wrote:
Touche. Outstanding arguments. Keep up the amazing effort.
natalielise pof

Tue, July 23, 2019 @ 2:51 PM

13. wrote:
My programmer is trying to convince me to move to
.net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the costs.
But he's tryiong none the less. I've been using WordPress on a variety of websites
for about a year and am worried about switching to another platform.
I have heard good things about Is there a way I can import all my wordpress posts into it?
Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

Mon, August 19, 2019 @ 8:37 AM

14. wrote:
I'm gone to inform my little brother, that he should also visit this website on regular basis to
take updated from newest gossip.

Mon, August 19, 2019 @ 8:43 AM

15. wrote:
There is certainly a lot to find out about this issue.
I like all the points you've made.

Fri, September 6, 2019 @ 10:33 AM

16. wrote:
Heya! I'm at work surfing around your blog from my new apple iphone!
Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward
to all your posts! Carry on the superb work!

Tue, September 24, 2019 @ 4:58 PM

17. wrote:
If some one wishes expert view regarding blogging afterward i propose him/her
to visit this weblog, Keep up the nice job.

Tue, October 22, 2019 @ 6:04 AM

18. wrote:
I like the valuable info you provide in your articles.
I'll bookmark your blog and check again here frequently.
I am quite sure I will learn many new stuff right
here! Best of luck for the next!

Mon, October 28, 2019 @ 9:30 AM

19. wrote:
Keep on working, great job!

Mon, November 11, 2019 @ 5:51 PM

20. wrote:
Very rapidly this web page will be famous among all blogging and site-building people, due to it's fastidious articles

Thu, November 14, 2019 @ 12:59 AM

21. wrote:
If you are going for best contents like me, simply visit this site everyday because it provides feature contents, thanks

Sun, November 17, 2019 @ 8:34 AM

22. wrote:
This web site certainly has all the info I wanted concerning this
subject and didn't know who to ask.

Wed, November 20, 2019 @ 4:04 AM

23. wrote:
Thanks very interesting blog!

Mon, December 9, 2019 @ 6:01 PM

24. wrote:
Fantastic web site. Lots of helpful information here.

I'm sending it to a few buddies ans additionally sharing in delicious.
And certainly, thank you for your effort!

Fri, December 13, 2019 @ 11:03 PM

25. wrote:
Capacity Building Coaching LLC | Tools for Difficult Conversations

Sun, December 15, 2019 @ 1:55 AM

26. wrote:
Paragraph writing is also a excitement, if you be acquainted
with afterward you can write or else it is complicated to write.

Mon, January 6, 2020 @ 4:54 PM

27. wrote:
You can definitely see your skills within the article you write.
The world hopes for even more passionate writers such as
you who aren't afraid to mention how they believe. Always follow your

Tue, January 14, 2020 @ 3:44 AM

28. wrote:
Capacity Building Coaching LLC | Tools for Difficult Conversations

Wed, January 29, 2020 @ 12:11 PM

Add a New Comment


Comment Guidelines: No HTML is allowed. Off-topic or inappropriate comments will be edited or deleted. Thanks.

Events Calendar