Having frank or difficult discussions with people is just part of life. Maybe you’re one of those people who has no problem being upfront and speaking your mind. Or maybe you’re like me, and having a hard conversation that could potentially hurt another person’s feelings isn’t exactly your strongest suit.
So, as an empathetic conflict-hater who struggles with having these tough-love conversations, here are my best tips for having a hard conversation and saying what needs to be said.
1. Write out what you want to say.
Grab a pen and paper and write out everything you want to say to the person in question. Write as though you’re directly addressing the person you need to talk to, having the conversation in real time.
And really write out everything, in detail. Express all your thoughts, feelings, decisions, etc. in as honest and raw a way as possible. Allow yourself to fully feel what you need to feel. When it comes time to have the conversation, you may not actually say everything you wrote down. But doing this exercise ahead of time will help you process everything, sort through your thoughts, and just get it all out.
2. Talk it out with someone else.
Find a close friend or family member to talk to. Ideally, find someone who has firsthand knowledge of the situation or the person involved, so they understand more. Talking to a trusted confidant about is always helpful because you get an outsider’s perspective and insight. If you want, you and this friend can even practice what you’re going to say during your hard conversation.
3. Do some prayerful preparation.
Prepare to have your tough conversation by taking it to prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to provide a good opportunity for the conversation and to inspire you with the right words to say. Pray for strength and courage to go through with the conversation, as well as for a good outcome. And pray to know God’s will about the situation and to see it, as well as the person in question, as God does.
If you entrust the situation to the Lord, He will guide you through it, bring peace to your heart, and resolve the situation according to His will (which will mean the best possible outcome).
4. Find an ideal time to have the conversation.
Find a time when you and this person can be alone and have ample privacy. If possible, make it be a time when you and/or the person has to leave shortly after the conversation – for instance, have the conversation when you know you have somewhere to be in an hour. This way, you won’t be stuck awkwardly hanging around after having a hard conversation and both of you can have some space.
5. Take a deep breath and just say it.
Whatever it is you have to say, just spit it out. As hard as it may be to do so, just say it. It might take a few deep breaths first and maybe even some tears (I’m definitely a crier) – and if it does, that’s okay. But when it comes down to it, you just gotta say it. Once you do, you’ll feel a million times better and as though a weight’s been lifted off your shoulders. And then hopefully, you and the other person can have a productive, fruitful conversation.