How to Prepare for a Difficult Conversation

by Jacqui Brauman

How to Prepare for a Difficult Conversation

by Jacqui Brauman

by Jacqui Brauman

The earlier we have a difficult conversation, the less likely it’s going to escalate into a conflict. 

Resolving issues early, is great.

When you do get into a conflict, and you’ve got to have a difficult conversation, these 3 tips are helpful. 

So trying to build up your conflict resolution skills to talk with the person directly, or even if you wanted to talk to your lawyer and have a difficult conversation with your lawyer.

Preparation is usually the key

Know what triggers you. Know what’s going to make you upset. 

Have a little phrase ready, so that you can use just to say you need a break, when you recognise you’re upset. 

You could even say: “This conversation is really important. I want to continue it. I’m just too upset right now. I’ll be back in 10 minutes.” Or, “can we resume again in a couple of hours?” 

Know your triggers, because when you are emotionally triggered, your brain then can’t perform as you want it to perform. So you need to be able to take a break to calm down.


Listening is actually a superpower in conflict resolution. 

If you listen, you learn a whole lot of information that you may not have known, and that information can then be used to help resolve the conflict. 

Listening also builds trust in the other person. It reduces their emotions because they feel heard. 

Don’t corner someone

This tip is about actually starting the conversation. You probably don’t like being surprised, so don’t spring a hard conversation on someone else. It they’re also better prepared, you’re less likely to get a highly emotional reaction.

It’s better if you’re going to have a hard conversation to let the person know; “Look, we need to talk about X. Can we do that at such and such a time?” Or, “Can we do that later this afternoon?” Or, “Let me know what’s a good time for you today.” 

Be specific about the issue that needs to be discussed, so they’re not left wondering.

Once you raise it as an issue, it is better to get it done earlier than later. Don’t suggest in the conversation in a couple of days time, because then you’re both going to be all stressed about it for a couple of days. Best to anticipate that it should happen within a couple of hours of saying that it needs to happen.

Here’s another article on a similar topic.

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