It’s important to understand our own patterns around how we look after ourselves. One of the things that I'm guilty of letting slide is difficult, uncomfortable conversations. Am I alone in this, or do you walk away and say “is it worth the confrontation?”
It is important to understand the 'choices' we make around these difficult conversations and how our choices influence our own self-care.
Whether we choose to address a situation or an issue head on or not, we make a choice.
Do we choose not to talk things through when a conversation goes sideways?
Do we walk away from difficult conversations?
Do we ignore behaviours that are impacting us negatively?
When we choose to avoid a situation or to let it sit, we choose to not invest our time and energy. The ripple effect of this is that we send a message to ourselves (and to others) that resolving it isn’t worth the time, energy, or emotion it may entail.
In certain situations, it may not be. However, when we choose to challenge existing conversational patterns, looking for new results, a positive ripple effect is created: “I am invested in our relationship and prepared to spend time, energy, and emotions to improve our interactions.” This builds trust, provides opportunities to grow and evolve our communication, and showcases that agreeing to disagree can be healthy.
If you were to take a look at some of the most pivotal conversations you’ve had in the last decade, what would you observe? Likely you find that there are “patterns” that influence how you responded in various situations. I know that I have them.
I once had a good friend who would on occasion speak down to me. She would use a tone that I found disrespectful and shuffle off my suggestions and ideas. One day, I couldn’t, wouldn’t and knew that I shouldn’t, let it happen any more.
I stated explicitly what was on my mind—and how the conversation could no longer continue as it had for the past two decades. I was not polite, gentle, or graceful about the situation as I saw it.
It must have blindsided her, as I’d never hinted at any dislike around how we communicated. I just reached a point where I wasn’t okay some of our interactions anymore.
Was it fair to her? No. Was it healthy? No. Did it serve any purpose to avoid the conversation? No.
Was the relationship worth investing the time and energy in? Yes. Was the friendship repairable? Yes. Thank goodness.
What I realize now as I look back to look forward is that I have a pattern of avoiding the difficult conversations—letting them slide, until the situation may not be repairable.
I’ve been working my personal conversation pattern—trying to be more cognizant of how I am feeling, my responses, and how I can move the conversation forward in a healthy manner. And in doing this in a timely fashion, so that what is wrong can be fixed before it festers and reaches a point of no return.
What kinds of conversational patterns do you have? Do they create a positive ripple effect? Or do they leave behind negative vibrations?
What other patterns might you find if you were to apply the looking backward to look forward process more broadly to your life?
Please share your thoughts, insights—and, of course—questions below.
 This tool and technique is outlined in Judith Glaser’s book Conversational Intelligence. Glaser, Judith. Conversational Intelligence for Coaches: How great leaders build trust and get extraordinary results. New York, New York: Bibliomotion Inc., 2014. pg. 146 – 149.