Elaine needed to talk to her partner about a touchy issue that kept coming up in their relationship. She was scared to have the conversation. In the past, she’d just shut-up and suck it up – or be very wishy-washy in how she conveyed the information.
Having difficult conversations or making requests – especially when they’re important to us – is often a heavy lift. In this week’s video I offer an approach that lightens the load in preparing to have a “difficult” conversation.

When we need to have a conversation that we’re not looking forward to, whether it’s with a significant other, or a boss, or a friend, whomever… we can become flustered and very unfocused. And we may be so rattled that we’re not able to convey what we really want to communicate, whether it’s a request or breaking bad news to someone.

So, what I’m about to share with you is an excellent practice to organize your thoughts. Generally, what happens if we haven’t figured out how to frame what we’re going to say, then we can kind of be all over the place. Often times, especially when we might be nervous, we can have a tendency to weave in-and-out, try to put a gloss on it and end up not getting to the point we really need to communicate… and often confusing the other person.

My simple example of this: Say we need to break the news that we’ve been in a fender bender. So, we’re unsettled and upset, and we need to have a conversation with someone about it. We may go into details that really have nothing to do with the point we need to make… might sound something like this: “You know I was going out to meet a friend for coffee, I got in my car and backed out of the driveway. There were some neighbors there who stopped me and asked how grandpa was feeling. And then I was driving through the neighborhood and headed down to the corner and I had to stop at a red light. So, I’m sitting waiting for the light to change, and this truck comes speeding up behind me and backends me. Freaked me out. But thank god nobody was hurt.

It took so long to get to the point because we might have been very scattered. So, this approach I’m about to tell you about makes great sense for when you need to communicate things that are meaningful to you. And we turn that scattered “story telling” on its head. And this is the way we do it.

When we have an important or difficult conversation that we have to have, we want to take a few moments and consider the most vital fact we need to convey… a “headline,” if you will. And then the second most important point you want to make, let’s call it the “subhead.”

So talking about the fender bender, might sound like this: I was in a fender bender this morning. Thankfully, nobody was hurt. Boom! And then offer the less important details. Yeah, I was just going out for coffee with a friend. So forth and so on.

Now this is a very simple example but it works great for more textured things you might be talking about – if you really need something from somebody, or you need to ask an important question, or you’re quitting your job or asking for a raise. Bosses really appreciate no beating around the bush. We all appreciate it. Keeps us focused and gets to the point.

In saying all that, this is not those times where you’re hanging out with friends and enjoying light conversation. In that instance, you’re relaxed, you’re having fun, tell all the stories you want. But when something’s on the line, and important to you, taking the time to determine what’s the most important fact and make it the headline and then the subhead – the next most important thing, works really well and keeps us on point.

Have you ever gotten thrown off and couldn’t nail down what you wanted to say? Or know somebody who does that? Drop down to the comments section and let me know.

I’m Becca Williams and I want you to lead your most magnificent life and I want to help you do that.