Many books have been written about difficult conversations with one thing in common: preparation is key.
When the stakes are high, it’s best if you don’t try to just swing it. Here are the 6 questions to ask yourself before the conversation:
1. What is the issue I am trying to resolve?
Often, it is not what you first think. Keep asking yourself ‘And why does this matter?’ until you get to the core of the issue.
2. What is the other person’s view of the issue?
Roleplay can be incredibly powerful if you have a friend who can play you and you try to play the person you need to have the conversation with. Get into their head. Get into their heart.
3. What assumptions are we making about the situation and each other?
Challenge yourself: not everything that you think is true, and definitely not everything that you feel is a fact or truth.
4. What underlying interests are at stake for me? And for the other person?
Everything is personal. And even though we have come a long way as species, most of our fundamental needs are still pretty basic.
5. What emotions does the situation trigger for me? And for the other person?
This is the hardest one to manage in the moment, so the more you are self-aware, the better. Have a safe exit plan if the conversation becomes way too triggering.
6. What do I want to achieve from the conversation?
The most important question of all. If you are clear on this, and keep reminding yourself of it during the conversation, what you say and how you say it will help you get there.