We all stumble into tricky interactions from time to time and we just handle it, don’t we? But actually launching head first into one is another matter. Let’s face it, we are genetically programmed to avoid pain. We avoid going to the doctor for as long as we can endure the discomfort, we put off a visit to the dentist until we can’t chew our food anymore, we ‘allow’ unpleasant tasks to fall to the bottom of the list because we just can’t face them. Why would awkward conversations be any different? The promise of some sort of psychological pain is every bit as off-putting.
In fact, I could claim that physical pain is easier to get over. There’s plenty of evidence (e.g. childbirth?!) to suggest that we actually completely forget, other than at an intellectual level, how bad it actually is (can you hear the ice cracking under my man's size 10 skates, as I write this?).
One problem with #psychological events by contrast is that we are very good at remembering when things went wrong but lousy and bringing to mind the occasions that we made a bad situation turn out better than it began. We are wired in such a way that we can have an emotion just by imagining the bad thing and yet we cannot feel physical pain until our bodies are actually harmed.
So, if we can accept that we are frightening ourselves off from starting that conversation on the basis of our astonishing and brilliant imaginations, how can we increase the odds, for ourselves, of taking the leap to initiate an event that is stimulating our imagination (for all the wrong reasons). Here are a couple of ideas for you to play with that might just make the conversation easier to even contemplate…
You have no idea how it’s going to turn out, for better or worse, so stop telling yourself that you do, based upon a previous experience. Today it will be different. You couldn't make it the same if you tried.
Keep things really, and I mean really, simple in terms of your preparation. In fact, you only need to know two things before you start that chat: 1. How you feel/felt about what the person has done/is doing - or about the situation in which you find yourselves. 2. Specifically what that feeling is about.
Get those two things under your belt and make the call, walk the corridor, tap on the door. Don’t think any more about it. You know everything that you need to know. Just blurt it out!