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Avoiding That Tough Conversation, Doesn't Make It Go Away


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You would not be human if you didn’t have to have a difficult conversation as some point in your life. Now if you are a leader or business owner, chances are that there is one you likely already know you need to have but are putting it off.


Difficult conversations are never easy, but they are part of moving your organization forward. They can be part of dealing with under performance, seeking investment for your ideas or part of building relationships with your customers. Difficult, but at the same time, incredibly valuable.


Difficult conversations are difficult because, quite frankly, they scare us. Whether we like to admit it or not, everyone hates levels of uncertainty. In thinking about those conversations, we start to question things like:

- How will the other person react? What if they don’t react well? How will I handle that

- What if they don’t answer the question, the way I want them to? What if they say no?

- What if in having that conversation, the other person thinks less or me? What if they think I am to blame? What if they no longer like me?


There is so much uncertainty, when we are dealing with someone else….or so we think.

For a moment, I want you to notice, that all the questions running through your mind, are being evaluated by you. In other words, you are creating the fear, because in fact you are asking yourself.

- How would I react? Would I react well or not?

- How would I answer the question? Would I say yes or no?

- Would I think less or me? Am I to blame? Do I like what I have done?


As you can see, the difficulty of the difficult conversation is in our own minds. It is with the scenarios we have running around in our heads. You are creating your own uncertainty and in doing so, it stops you from doing the things that would create the certainty you need to move forward. The more uncertain you are, the more overwhelmed and less effective you are as a leader.


One of the most effective tools in dealing with uncertainty, is certainty.


Regardless of situation, there are always things you can be certain of. When you focus on those, it changes your perspective. When the scales are tipped towards uncertainty, you think about taking action, but when you tip it the other way, you stop thinking and actually take action.


A difficult conversation with an employee related to under performance. Things you can be certain of:

  • Without the conversation, there is little chance the employee or you will be successful.

  • When your employees are successful, it makes less work for you.

  • There could be something you are unaware of, that if you were, would allow you to fix things in a different way.

  • It is because you want the best for everybody, that you are concerned about this situation.


At the end of the day, difficult situations only occur, because you want to make things better; you want your company to perform better, your relationships to be better and to create prosperity for you and your family. The next time you find yourself avoiding a difficult conversation, flip your thinking around to focus on the things you can be certain of, and you will find it much easier to take the action needed to create the results you want.