0141 846 0449

Having a difficult conversation (with a difficult person)

Why are some people, and some conversations, just so difficult to have?Difficult conversations

You’ve been in that situation I’m sure.  The one where you know you need to have a conversation with someone – your boss, a colleague, a family member, a neighbour or a friend – and you just KNOW it’s going to be difficult.

You can already imagine how they’ll react.  You can hear what they’ll say.  You can even feel how you are going to respond when they do.

So guess what, you avoid the conversation.  In fact, you might even avoid the person too!

Let’s turn things around for a moment.  What if neither the conversation nor the person are in fact difficult.  What if you are only making them difficult by the way you are thinking about them?

It sounds a bit crazy but we create our own reality through our thoughts.  Nothing is really happening “out there” it’s all happening “in here” (she says, tapping her head).

It’s like when we see a colleague or friend across the road, shout to them and they don’t respond we might automatically think they were ignoring us.  That thought then begins a train of thoughts about what we did to cause them to ignore us…..”I wonder what I did wrong?” or “oh well, if that’s how they want to be….” It really feels real to us in that moment and our thoughts trigger a chain reaction of negative emotions (which we may or may not act upon).

If we changed our thoughts…..”oh, they can’t have heard me” or “they are so focused on where they are going, they must be really busy” or “maybe something is worrying them and that’s why they’re distracted”….our emotions and reactions would change.  We would feel empathy for them, we’d want to contact them later to check-in with them.  This situation is also real!  But it’s less difficult, painful or worrisome than the previous one.

Difficult conversations, difficult people are only so because we THINK they are.

If we can step back and notice our thoughts about the person and the conversation, we give ourselves a better chance of finding a way to reduce the difficultness!

So, if you have a “difficult” converstion to have with a “difficult” person here are 3 tips to make it easier:


  • ask yourself “what do I know about the other person?” then ask “what is true and what is just my perception/my thoughts?”
  • pause and breathe, allow your mind to settle and the voice in your head to quieten down, feel your feet on the floor
  • focus on the outcome, what will it be like to have this conversation and for it to go well?  how will that improve things for you/for them?


Notice those tricky thoughts popping back in to your head whilst you are in the conversation.  They’ll try and de-rail you.  They’ll try and knock you off balance.  But turning your attention outwards you’ll start to tune into what is going on in the shared reality you have with the other person and not just the one you have created in your head.

And always remember – whatever you think will be your reality, so think differently if you want a different experience!




Like a bit more help with these types of conversations? Take a look at my video’s over on Youtube.

Or, if there’s a specific conversation or person you’d like more personalised help in dealing with get in touch for a free 30 minute coaching session.


Leave a Reply