The harder the conversion the more important it is to have it. I had an experience in the past week with a friend which underlines this. She and I had an issue between us which needed to be addressed but which was also very awkward to talk about. I spent the week between before the hard conversation wondering what would happen, how it would go, if it would ruin our friendship or who knows what! This morning before I opened up the conversation I was feeling stressed out and when I first opened my mouth I was super nervous and feeling really on edge. It was so uncomfortable! We did it though and had the conversation and immediately things got easier between us. The air was cleared. Hard conversations rule!
This experience is not something new to me and time and time again having the hard conversation leads to better relationships, less stress and a happier self. A large part of this for me is that I’m being honest. Not only honest with the other person but more importantly I’m being honest with myself. It is far to easy to build stories in our heads around whatever topic we are worried about before getting it out. These stories are usually the best or worst case scenarios which could exist and are almost never the realities once we are brave enough to have the hard conversation.
Nobody likes to have hard conversations so being able to start them is a gift to yourself and to others. It allows for the release of the awkward and lets it be taken out of the unknown into reality. If you are feeling like the conversation will be hard the other person probably is too. It is also an opportunity for you to express what you want and be honest about your desires and expectations. This is powerful because it lets you express what you want and gives you the chance to honestly tell the other person what you think.
Hard conversations also create intimacy and trust in relationships. The fact is that if you are willing to open up a hard conversation with someone that means you trust them enough to open yourself up to them and be vulnerable. That is a powerful expression of how much you value the relationship with the other person.
Having hard conversations applies to a lot more than just talks between friends. It also applies to lovers, co-workers, bosses, family, children, or even to complete strangers. Opening up these conversations creates a safe space for the conversation to happen. Creating this safe space acknowledges that the conversation is difficult but also that the relationship is important enough to make yourself vulnerable and open to the other person and that they can be open and vulnerable with you.
A big part of what makes these conversations so hard are the social standards around having hard conversations and the fact that as a society we don’t teach these skills. In school nobody teaches you how to ask for a raise, how to talk to a lover about STIs, how to talk to a friend about a dispute or how to talk to your kids about sex and money. We are simply expected to do it without any teaching. This is pretty absurd; it’s like expecting your kids to learn math without it being taught in school or at home.
Being good at having hard conversations are also a learned skill. The more you do it the easier it gets to have them. It never makes the conversations easy (that’s why they are hard conversations) but it does make it more comfortable to open yourself up to have them. You start to learn that the worst won’t happen when you have the conversations and more often then not you will end up in a much better place personally and in your relationship with the other person even if you don’t come out of the talk with what you want.
So go ahead, start that hard conversation and see where it leads you!