How to beat the inertia and make a start

Starting 'that' conversation

As with many things that test us in life, the anticipation is often more painful than the event itself.

April 13, 2022

As with many things that test us in life, the anticipation of a difficult conversation is almost always more painful than the event itself. So here are a few thoughts to help you to get off the ground if you are avoiding starting that #difficultconversation, or perhaps are just lost for the right words to begin.



If you are still at the avoiding stage consider the possibility that we humans, although fabulously insightful 'in the moment' (when we want to be) we are rubbish at foretelling the future, in other words, how somebody will react. We tend to get stuck on old memories of a few events in our past when things went really badly. But just as any stockbroker will tell you that past performance of a stock is no predictor of future profits, I can tell you that just because a conversation has gone wrong in the past does not mean that it will go wrong again in the future. A different day, a different tone, a different topic, a different attitude, different words, a different, more experienced, you. All these factors will come into play. You couldn't make it go wrong in the same way if you tried!



There is no perfect moment for beginning a difficult conversation. Try to avoid imagining that the person with whom you need to speak is going to at some point in their day be in the perfect mood to hear a tough challenge from you. The only thing that you need to plan for is to get them on their own for 5 minutes so that you both have a bit of peace and quiet in which to talk and think. If you can't achieve that in the building simply invite them to take a quick walk with you.



All you need to get going in your conversation is two ingredients: a fact and a feeling. In other words, what went wrong with an event or their behaviour or action and how you felt or feel about it. Just pop those thoughts into one or two sentences, at most, and then approach that desk or knock on that door and let the words come out.


Having a tough conversation with somebody might not be the easiest thing that you do today or this week but it might be one of the most satisfying. When we get through difficult conversations with people there is a strong possibility that the relationship between you and them can become stronger because you've been through something together. So, far from weakening relationships, #honesty brings people together with the bond of something difficult accomplished together.

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