Crucial Conversations

communication conversations Nov 05, 2022

Have you ever had a hard conversation with someone? I'm talking about the kind of conversation where you're not sure what to say, and you know it's going to be awkward and uncomfortable. Or maybe the person will be mad at you for bringing it up.

Often these conversations hurt relationships, but they don't have to.

I have some good news for you! You can approach these conversations more confidently — and avoid some of the stress that comes with them. I'll show you how to do it.

Here are four must-have steps for having hard conversations:

  1. Identify your goal: The first step is identifying what exactly you want to say. If possible, write down your message and then practice saying it out loud until you feel comfortable enough to say it in person. Then ask a close friend for feedback so they can provide wisdom and a different point of view.
  2. Start with empathy: Instead of jumping into the conversation without any context, try starting by saying something like "I'm sorry that this is hard for both of us" or "I know this isn't easy." This will help make the listener feel heard, which makes them more likely to engage when it's their turn. Remind them that you are for them and want this conversation's outcome to be a growth opportunity.
  3. Be specific: When describing the problem, try using "I" statements instead of "you" statements. For example, instead of saying, "You always do this," try saying, "This is happening." This helps give ownership back to your conversation partner.
  4. Be vulnerable. "The story I am telling myself in my head" is a powerful opportunity to invite them into your psyche and let them see how this situation affects you. However, recognize there is a difference between professional and personal vulnerability.

There may be some fallout afterward. That's okay! Give them space to process. Some people will process it in a few minutes; others may take many days. 

Either way, it takes time for someone else's mind to change before they accept new information or agree with us on something important enough for us not to want our relationship.

The goal is not to win the argument but to win the relationship so that both parties move forward better.

Every relationship has rocky times, but using these four steps puts you in a position to reach the other side with a stronger relationship than when you started.


Have the hard conversation that you need to have. 

That's it.

Have the courage to bring the conversation up and use these four steps to ensure a successful outcome.


Learn how to keep your cool and get the results you want when emotions flare.

When stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong, you have three choices: Avoid a crucial conversation and suffer the consequences; handle the conversation badly and suffer the consequences; or read Crucial Conversations and discover how to communicate best when it matters most. Crucial Conversations gives you the tools you need to step up to life's most difficult and important conversations, say what's on your mind, and achieve the positive resolutions you want.

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