I've had several difficult conversations - personally and professionally over the course of my life -from negotiating my salary (where I was told I was being manipulative-thats a story for another post), to my end of year performance rating, to the "let's just be friends/break-up" conversations, to calling my siblings after forgetting their birthdays and more. As much as these conversations were difficult the toughest was telling my family and friends that I was going on national television – on the Oprah Winfrey Network to talk about something that is still taboo in not only my community but the world. It was my most nerve racking, uncomfortable, difficult conversation to date.
I know firsthand how the guilt or fear we feel of making our loved one or another person upset/uncomfortable often stops us from having the conversation. In most cases it stresses us out - taking a toll on our body and day to day interactions.
One of the key things to remember is this: being yourself is a gift to yourself, your loved ones and the world in general.
And in order to be that gift, you need to be true to yourself, to do what’s right and most importantly - to honor your feelings/emotions.
The only responsibility you have is to honor your feelings - be it through writing, singing and in this case - honor it by having a conversation that matters.
Once you've made a commitment to have the conversation, don't take on the guilt associated with how people react or may react. Know that you have the right to honor your emotions/feelings and and you also have a right to express your feelings and thoughts through conversations.
When you do have the conversation, know that your friends, family members, loved ones, also have the right to honor their emotions/feelings. Just like you - they too have the right to be upset, to rant, to yell, to not speak to you and do whatever they please. You cannot stop or prevent them from expressing their emotions and you should not take their reaction personally. They are simply honoring their feelings. Your job is to deliver the message - not be guilty or afraid that they will be upset or won’t speak to you.
This post is to provide you with some tips to encourage you to say what you have to say. Go ahead and have that difficult conversation. Do it sincerely from your heart. Having difficult conversations is cathartic and can bring you the peace and joy you have been seeking. When we hold onto our emotions and don't express them - it festers and turns into a malignant tumor which keeps on growing dat after day, year after year. This usually manifests into unhappiness, health complications and more.
And if that person doesn’t speak to you or walks away from you, then everything is as it should be. In the end all that happens in our life- is for the best.
Maybe you have a message for that person. Maybe God wants to remove that person from your life, so not speaking to you will be a blessing.
Most importantly instead of being afraid that they will be upset, just accept that people have a right to be upset and just let things unfold as they should. I know how guilty we can feel when we need to have a difficult conversations with a loved one or family member. There were lots of people upset with me when I had my difficult conversation, but I needed to have it. I did it sincerely because I needed to be free from the prison of fear that "Elephant Story" had over my life. I also wanted to honor my feelings as it had already manifested itself into various forms of unhappiness, trust issues and more.
And having that conversation was also part of my life work which is making the world a better place for women and girls.
Here are my Success Keys on how to have difficult conversations guilt free:
Know that the individual has a right to express their emotions and be upset.
Be sincere with your words- Speak from the heart and hold true to honoring your message. Another key is to write out what you would like to say before you have the conversation. This will also ensure that you stick to your key points you would like to bring across.
Acknowledge that the person has every right to be upset. For example you can say: “I realize that this may make you upset and I want you to know that it’s Ok if you are.”
Give them space to be upset and vent. If this person is meant to be in your life, they will talk to you when they are ready. Remember they will speak to you on their own accord.
Based on what you needed to say, let them know that you are open for discussion or for further clarification should they need it. Again it is up to the individual to take you up on that offer.
So today if you have something difficult to say to someone or if there is someone who is currently upset with you, know that they have a right to exercise that emotion. Don't go into 2015 holding on to "that story" - start off your year without that "burden". This holiday season - give yourself the gift of freedom. Freedom to be who God created you to be.
Use any of the Success Keys noted above and always remember that everyone has the right to be upset and you have the right to honor your feelings/emotions.
How do you deal with difficult conversations? What worked well for you in the past? Did any of the Success Keys noted above resonate with you? How do you deal with your guilt? Would love to hear your thoughts.
with love + best wishes