3 reasons we avoid difficult conversations and the one way to overcome them

Making excuses for why you don’t need to have the conversation.

Almost everyone avoids difficult conversations and, when you do have these conversations, it would be normal for you to not look forward to them. There are several reasons for this: 

  1. We don’t want to upset the other person or be upset ourselves (which is very understandable).
  2. We think the problem might resolve itself and giving time is the best thing (sometimes that’s true).
  3. It’s an anxiety-inducing situation to give someone a difficult message or discuss a difficult topic and feeling anxious is not nice.

These are not good reasons to avoid the conversation.

There’s a simple way of overcoming these reasons and putting them in their place.

Imagine applying these reasons to not having a difficult conversation with a child in your school:

  1. I don’t want to hurt their feelings, so I won’t tell them they were mean to another child/that they are capable of better work. 
  2. We’ll discuss your performance at review time vs. we’ll discuss today’s work when it’s parents evening. 
  3. Someone else might tell them. 

These ‘reasons’ are bizarre when we think about applying them to children, and yet we use them with adults all the time.​​​​​​​

The fact is we need to talk to adults about behaviour more, just like we do with children, because, I don’t know about you, but my behaviour isn’t always as good as I’d like to think it is and I rely on those nearest and dearest to me to help me understand when that is the case so that I can improve it. 

The problem with letting these reasons win is that it’s unlikely the problem will go away, and this means it’s going to cause damage to you, to others, and to your school. 

Top tip: Whatever difficult conversation you have coming up, think about what you would do if it was a child in school. It’s a useful lens through which to view difficult conversations you need to have.

If you’d like to discuss how we can help train you and your team to have successful difficult conversations, contact our Customer Success Manager Nisha to arrange an initial 10 minute conversation. Her email is nisha@ukheadsup.com.