What is the best outcome possible from a difficult conversation? You know, the sticky situations that have to be cleaned up?
I like to think of these difficult conversations as truth-telling sessions, where you’re there to speak your truth and you’re there to hear someone else speak their truth. That someone else can be a client, a colleague, an employee, a contractor, maybe a friend or family member, a spouse or significant other — it can be anyone.
Difficult conversations are not something that only entrepreneurs deal with.
Everyone deals with this in every facet of their lives. There are all sorts of tricky, sticky situations and conversations that we will have during our lives. And if there’s something that I’ve learned over time, the reason they’re sticky and tricky, and often go sideways is that we’re bringing all of our baggage to a conversation.
So the question becomes, how do we not bring our baggage into the conversation? That’s a great question, but before answering it, there is something else that must be addressed first: Why it is a problem to bring your baggage to the conversation and exactly what is baggage anyway.
What do I mean by baggage? I’m talking about emotional baggage.
- Your perceptions
- Your intent
- Your perception of the other person
- Your perception of what they may be thinking
Perhaps you get really into it and think about all the different sides. Then you’re playing the tape through on a billion different scenarios that might happen and likely getting more upset before having the conversation. Or even worse, making a decision without having a conversation at all.
Here’s the deal . . . we need to enter with these truth-telling sessions with the most optimism possible. Why is that? The environment always wins.
The environment always wins is one of the maxims learned early in my coaching career. If we create a good productive environment, chances are good, we’re going to have good productive, truth-telling sessions.
Okay, so are you with me there? Remember, the environment always wins.
CLEAR YOUR ENERGY
The best and easiest way for you to create a winning environment is to clear your energy. There are three ways that I typically clear my energy when I’m about to engage in what I initially perceive as a difficult or sticky conversation.
#1 GET INTO WATER
If I can, I get into water. There’s just something about water that washes away all the muck, both physically and energetically.
- I will take a shower.
- I will take a bath.
- I will go for a swim.
- I will get in the hot tub.
- I will go out to the ocean.
It reminds me of the opening song from South Pacific: “I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair and send him on his way.”
You’re washing all those thoughts away from you. Releasing all those preconceptions and negativity that you’ve put around the conversation, the person, or the situation. You let them all flow away from you. It’s like washing away all the muck. That’s why I believe getting into water is one the best way to clean your energy (and I note my bias as a Scorpio rising).
This is perfect for really short-notice conversations. I can hear you saying, “I breathe all the time,” spoiler alert: I do too.
What I’m talking about is a special kind of breathing, deep meditative breathing. I’m not necessarily saying to meditate, maybe you will have the time to do that and maybe you won’t. What I’m talking about is a very structured way of breathing. The easiest way to teach you how to do the four-part breath is to watch the video I did on it. Click to watch How To Calm Yourself in Under 60 Seconds. What I love about this breathing technique is it really shifts your energy almost instantly.
When you have time, even just 30 minutes prior to the conversation, you can journal. It is another way to get out all the stuff that is bothering you. Write down all the stuff the person did or what your perceptions are. Writing really helps you get it all out, like that water it washes it all the way. When you write your words you’re spinning them instead of them rolling around in your head spinning you out.
Remember, the spoke word is a type of magic. We want to speak life over people. This method gets all that ugliness out on the paper. And if you are like me, and writing a lot can be annoying (the working on my dissertation really did it to me), then use the voice memo on your phones. Whichever way works for you, do it. The point is to clear your baggage so you can go into the conversation with clean energy.
Now that you are entering the conversation with clean energy, you’ll notice that it doesn’t seem sticky or tricky anymore. This shift opens you up to possibilities.
I wanted to share one more way I clean my energy. It is actually my favorite, but it is a multi-step process. So you need time on your side to do it.
When I find out, it’s time to have one of these conversations, I begin doing the four-part breath. That’s my initial clearing. Then I shower or bathe or swim — whatever I need to do to get myself in the water to do a full-on cleansing. After water, I turn to paper to journal. This releases anything else that is left.
What to give the release a boost? Burn the paper you just wrote everything down on. Burn it because it no longer matters.
Just before I enter the conversation, I do my breathing again. It’s that important! The breathing shifts any other lingering muckiness that could be there.
CONTAINER OF POSSIBILITY
Now, I’ve created a container of possibility, a container where I can neutrally tell my truth. And in aliment with energetic principles, when you’re coming in with clean neutral energy, other people respond to you in kind. This aids the other party in telling their truth in as much neutrality as possible.
In essence, what you give out, you get back, especially energetically. That’s why you get your energy as clean as possible, so you can have the best outcome possible. If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this because it transcends even this conversation about having the best outcome possible in a tricky conversation or a difficult conversation . . . I want you to remember, the environment always wins.
Set up a winning environment so that things will go more smoothly for everyone involved.
I want to read your thoughts below about tricky or difficult conversations. What happened in your last one? What did you do? Would the outcome have been different if you had the information above?