Crucial conversations. Just the word crucial can create a spike in blood pressure and cue sweaty palms. So it was with a wee bit of nervousness that I engaged in this topic on See Hear Love recently.
We’ve all had them, haven’t we? They’re the conversations that matter most. The high stakes conversations where emotions are likely to run high, and opinions are probably going to differ. And as women, since relationships are fundamentally important to us, we tend to believe these crucial conversations might do more harm than good.
And so, because we think we’re doing the relationship a favor by avoiding the tough stuff, we steer clear from anything that might ruffle feathers, make us cry, or leave us feeling too vulnerable.
But here’s the thing – crucial conversations can actually strengthen and deepen relationships. They have the very real potential to create new meaning and pathways of communication. And they grow our interpersonal capacities as we interact with others in our lives.
But that doesn’t mean they’re easy.
This is what I loved about our chat on See Hear Love – we addressed the real truth that crucial conversations are tough. None of us wake up in the morning hoping to dive into high stakes conversations – and yet, we all agreed that while they’re difficult, they also present real opportunities for growth.
On the show we talked about the key ingredients and necessary steps to success when engaging in these potentially difficult interactions with people.
Maybe not surprisingly, an important initial step is to engage in active self awareness and self reflection. Asking the question, what am I hoping for – for myself, for the other person, and for the relationship? is a great place to start.
As a Narrative Therapist, I often ask clients, “what is the story you want to be able to tell about this situation? And what’s the story you want the other person to tell about it?”
It was a rich panel discussion as we chatted about the importance of beginning with the end in mind, and really checking in on our own motives and feelings as a way to help maintain focus and clarity. According to Crucialskills.com, when we step into these important conversations, sticking to the facts, creating safety, asking for feedback, and inviting active dialogue are necessary ingredients to facilitating positive outcomes for crucial conversations.
On the other hand, what happens when people approach us for a crucial conversation – when someone else initiates a high stakes conversation that is likely to evoke strong emotions from us?
These can seemingly come out of nowhere from our friends, family members, colleagues, and ministry partners – and leave us feeling blindsided and ill prepared to dive into such important conversations.
The women on our See Hear Love panel agreed, humility and prayer are essential if we’re going to navigate these potentially challenging interactions with people. And whenever possible, sitting in a place of curiosity as a way to gain understanding and find meaning will help keep potentially high emotions and opinions in check.
Without question, crucial conversations are those human interactions we tend to shrink back from – but as we discussed on the panel – they also provide powerful growth opportunities, and have the very real potential to build greater emotional intimacy, understanding and connection
And isn’t that what we’re all really craving?