Most people would agree that discomfort isn’t necessarily an emotion they’d like to feel. Honestly, most people would probably prefer to go through life without ever feeling uncomfortable.
But, feelings of discomfort lead us to expansive growth, whether that’s stepping outside of our comfort zone, picking up a new skill or having difficult conversations. Whether the tough conversations you need to have are political, social, environmental, or just difficult on a personal level, leaning into the discomfort is the only way through.
While we often tend to avoid any tough situations, embracing discomfort allows us to experience beauty on the other side. Like a lotus flower that blooms from the mud, heeding strongly through turmoil can lead to liberation and a deeper sense of connection.
How to embrace discomfort while having tough conversations
Instead of navigating life on eggshells and avoiding problematic conversations, we can uplift each other by leaning into discomfort and meeting each other with understanding.
But, navigating such conversations takes strategy. So, before you jump into a difficult conversation, take a look at these tips to ensure that the conversation goes as smoothly as possible.
1. Have a plan
While it’s best to let difficult conversations develop organically, it’s smart to start off with a plan just in case the conversation goes sideways. Having a plan and knowing what topics you would *ideally* like to cover can help you get back on track if the conversation derails.
2. Come from a place of curiosity and respect
It’s crucial that you meet the person you’re talking to with an open heart and an open mind. You have to have a genuine curiosity to learn, as opposed to having the goal to make your “point.” Also, drop any desire for likeability. The person you’re talking to is most likely going to disagree with you, and that’s ok.
- Accept vulnerability
You are going to be uncomfortable, which means you’re going to be vulnerable. In the beautiful words of Brené Brown, you cannot have courage without vulnerability. Those two emotions run parallel and intersect. So, instead of shying away from vulnerability, meet it with the bravery and courage it deserves.
Pay attention to what you’re hearing, not what you want to say
While having a plan is great, you must be open to where the conversation goes organically once the other person starts talking. You cannot predict what someone is going to say, so actively listen instead of waiting to make your point. Being an active listener takes skill that most of us have not yet crafted. Commit to listening openly and thoughtfully.
- Make “I” statements and avoid “you”
It’s so easy to point the finger at someone else when having difficult conversations. “You” said this, or “you” did this, or “you” made me feel like that; all of that puts blame on the person you’re speaking to and will cause them to get defensive. By making “I” statements, you’re talking from your own standpoint and opening up the conversation for self-reflection.
While it may be difficult at first, having tough conversations will enhance your relationships and inspire you to live more in your truth. The best way to get through discomfort is to lean into vulnerability and approach the situation with an open heart and an open mind. Remember, if the conversation becomes too messy, you can always take a recess and come back to it later. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying that you need more time to clear your thoughts.