Avoiding difficult conversations isn’t a unique occurrence; it’s almost human nature, since we’re programmed to protect ourselves from pain of any kind.
Tampa, FL (PRWEB) November 10, 2012
Most people are looking forward to the upcoming holiday season, but this time of merriment can be quite trying when it comes to getting along with demanding or estranged relatives. Family get-togethers may result in the need to hold difficult conversations, something that’s normally postponed as long as possible, so FPMG, a performance management firm, considers this an opportune moment to announce strategies to get through those stressful “sit-downs” that are also appropriate for any business-related difficult conversation--including conflict in family businesses.
“Avoiding difficult conversations isn’t a unique occurrence; it’s almost human nature, since we’re programmed to protect ourselves from pain of any kind,” said Denise Federer, Ph.D., FPMG’s founder. “But, this isn’t a question of avoiding physical pain—it’s just talking, after all—so why is it so darn hard?”
Here are a few reasons:
- People feel like the potential outcome of a difficult conversation may create discomfort and aren’t prepared to deal with the consequences.
- Avoiding the situation feels less stressful than confronting it, so people are controlled by approach-avoidance or passive-aggressive behavior syndrome.
- People tend to “catastrophize” and have irrational thinking about uncomfortable situations.
“The bottom line is likely that we won’t initiate difficult conversations until we’re miserable enough to do so,” Federer said. “Unfortunately, in some cases that may be too late, especially if the conversation results from a ‘trigger moment,’ when it’s apt to spin out of control.”
FPMG recommends that people ask themselves what price they’re paying by not having a tough conversation. To be proactive, the company suggests taking two essential steps:
- Thinking—deciding/making the difficult decision to have the conversation
- Taking action—learning the skills necessary to have the tough conversation and using them
The thinking process should begin by having an “internal conversation”: “discussing” what happened; exploring intention, truth, and blame; and understanding that the goal of the difficult conversation is to minimize hurt, anger, and guilt while allowing for as much integrity as possible. It’s important that behavior be based on learning, rather than judging, and focused on turning conversations into win-win situations.
Federer said it’s important to listen non-defensively, hear the other person’s perspective, and acknowledge it. It’s also necessary to avoid using global generalizations like “you always” or “you never” and don’t be in attack mode, but describe behavior, provide objective data, and identify what the ideal outcome of the conversation would be.
“There are two things to never lose sight of as your conversation moves forward,” Federer noted. “Your preparation won’t necessarily eliminate your discomfort, but minimize it, and your behavior will affect the other person’s, so it will pay significant dividends to remain calm and focused on the matter at hand.”
FPMG is a Florida performance management consultancy dedicated to guiding successful people to be their best. Based in Tampa, we help you uncover the non-financial issues that impact the bottom line. FPMG offers consulting for family business problems, financial advisors legacy advising, leadership development, and more.