Self employment and the complicated lives artists lead often result in the need to have difficult conversations with others.. Recently I desperately needed to have a difficult conversation – and I had spent far too much time dreading it, getting stressed about it and putting it off: fear was the my main obstacle and I knew, for sure, that if I didn’t have the conversation – things would stay as they were: I was truly miserable.
I asked around & got some advice – luckily I was inundated with some real golden nuggets from some pretty fabulous – friends, neighbours and peeps on social media..
I then bucked up buckets full of courage and had my ‘tricky’ conversation – the result has had a really huge & positive impact on my life, work and general wellbeing.
Here are my notes, sifted from the golden nuggets & advice I pocketed – Difficult conversations – go do it – and do it well – have your difficult conversation –
Be very clear and sure about exactly what it is that you want to achieve.
Be clear about your rationale. Is your reason for the discussion valid?
Be clear about the issue in terms of whether its an action they’ve carried out or something about the person themselves.
If it’s an action (or non action), talk about the thing as an issue, don’t rubbish the person.
Know whether there’s anything they can do to change your mind/rectify the problem and if so, ask how they might manage change.
Empathise with any reasonable issues they’re facing.
Be honest and assertive and don’t do yourself an injustice.
it’s always worse before, than after.
Expect them to be unhappy/angry/disgruntled and if they are, ask yourself again ‘Is your reason for the discussion valid?’ – and be happy that you had to say it.
Write down and rationalise what you want to cover in this conversation – you may need to break it down into more than one topic/discussion..
Don’t ‘paper over’ – Conflict is another way of describing that we are all individuals and have differing views so not to be avoided/papered over. No need to think of it as confrontation – it’s an integral part of progress in nuanced human and social relationships. Negotiating through such situations is a life skill we all need to hone in on.
Also do your prep –
Prepare for it just like an important interview – things you might say/offer things you want to include and bottom line things that must be cleared up!
– Three parts usually encompass those. Then try to anticipate their side/comments/ essential bottom line. A good result is something you can both live with – a win-win when you both want to continue the relationship (rather than retreating and loudly or silently slagging each other off.)
Try to de-personalise. It’s not about you and them. It’s about the point you need to make. Always keep the required result in mind. Recognise their view too..
I prepared for my discussion – making lengthy notes and looking at my options – I tweaked it and shortened it – using the advice above – had the discussion and to be honest couldn’t quite believe what was achieved –
So I’m passing the info on – sharing the golden nuggets – ABOVE ‘so other artists will fare better and be stronger and assertive in the complex world we now all operate in.’
Go forth and no more papering over.