tips for navigating difficult conversations

10 Recommendations for Approaching Challenging Conversations that Lead to Greater Connection

Wondering how to communicate more effectively, particularly in tricky + sticky situations?

I recently released the first post in my new series on Difficult Dialogues called, “Tips & Techniques for Having Complicated Conversations: P1” and I received a ton of great questions from readers. As a complementary resource to that post, I’ve compiled a handy short list for you.

Here are my 10 recommendations for approaching challenging conversations that lead to greater connection.

1 ) Stay away from asking, Why? “Why” looks for blame, and shuts down any opportunity for understanding.

2 ) There’s a difference between the response of “I know” (which makes the other person close up), versus using the phrase, “That’s right,” which is much more collaborative in tone.

3 ) Substitute the word “and” every time you want to use the word, “but.” But is combative, while and is collaborative.

4 ) Listen for what you CAN agree with. Most of us listen for what we can disagree with, which doesn’t leave much room for collaboration.

5 ) Love every idea for five minutes. See what you can find that is good in an idea before you find something wrong with it.

6 ) Sit in silence. Give yourself and your conversation partner time to think.

7 ) Don’t prepare a reply while the other person is still speaking. If you do that, you’re not really listening.

8 ) Move toward the conflict. Most of us don’t like conflict, but it’s normal and healthy. Conflict is information and, if handled well, it’s an opportunity.

9 ) Know Thyself. If you are feeling upset or overwhelmed, it’s okay to stop the conversation and come back to it. But – you do need to come back to it.

10 ) Practice. Practice Practice. As with any other skill, navigating complicated conversations takes time to get better at.


What do you think about these tips? What will you use to help yourself move forward?

As always, I’m interested in what you’re thinking and would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.