Difficult Conversations Embolden You!

Useful tips to help you learn to have difficult conversations

Toyin Zuleiha
5 min readDec 12, 2021


Photo Credit: Cottonbro on Pexels

Difficult conversations are very essential for any and every kind of relationship. For a relationship to thrive and for it to be what you want it to be without getting the short end of the stick, one must learn to have the hard conversations.

One of the hardest conversations I have ever had was with my parents. They were talking to me about getting married and in their blame game fashion listed all of the things I was doing wrong that wasn’t letting me find a partner. I will humour you and tell you one of the reasons — I don’t cover my hair as a woman. The full gist is not something I want to delve into in this article but I remember explaining to them calmly how that has nothing to do with anything and how I am not going to do what I don’t believe in just to get a partner.

The thing that I see as the problem with that conversation is that there is a difference in ideology.

I remember leaving that conversation feeling so empowered. I felt even more emboldened to stand up for myself to anyone, anywhere. I didn’t need to cower and let people say things they assumed about me nor did I need to accept what people think of me by giving me guilt that wasn’t mine to carry.

When anyone says or does something that doesn’t go well with me, I call them to order. It is simple.

Do I like to fight? Absolutely not. Do I like to argue? I have to write every day and by the time I am done with that task, I am too tired to argue.

Having the mindset that you are not fighting anybody, your intention is not to annoy a person is very necessary for having a difficult conversation. The guilt of angering a person goes away. What you are doing when you confront people is — you want them to clarify your thoughts in case you have misunderstood them, you want them to treat you with more respect and agency, you want them to learn how to treat you better.

With that in mind, you can understand that it is not a fight or argument but a way to clarify your position and clarify your relationship.

However, if it turns into an argument or even a disagreement, it is necessary. Daisy Dowling puts it succinctly when she said “finger-pointing, denial, arguments and tears are all possible outcomes of tough conversations. You cannot control the other person’s reactions, but you can anticipate them, and be emotionally ready.”

Secondly, in having difficult conversations, you need to understand that people treat you how you let them treat you. You have to teach them how to treat you and define your boundaries.

Just last week, my friend needed something from someone and I supplied her with the contact. Then she goes ahead to tell the person I am going to pick it up for her without informing me first. Before now, the fear of losing the relationship often leads me to just accept it without mentioning to my friend but in the end, I always lose the relationship so what is the point. I called her immediately asking why she didn’t inform me first before telling the person I’ll go pick it up.

If you don’t learn to have difficult conversations, many people won’t respect your agency, time and money. You’ll continually beat yourself up for being treated with no regard when in fact the work is in your hands. According to The Chelsea Psychology Clinic “when we allow people to walk all over us, it’s going to leave us with a bad taste in our mouth. We’re going to be left with anger and resentment. We might wonder why people are so inconsiderate… Why they don’t just know what we want.”

Mindset Shifts to Help You Have Difficult Conversations More Easily

1. Confrontations are good: You need to understand that confrontations, though uncomfortable, are good. It helps you get to the bottom of an issue and find solutions. It brings peace. If you are having doubts, instead of continually being in a state where you don’t know and the anxiety it brings, you know where you fall.

2. Acceptance: Some relationships will not remain the same or it might even go bad. It is important to keep that in mind. It might actually be for the best. However, it is no good when your relationship is inauthentic because you are not letting your opinion known or because you are not being totally honest with your feelings.

3. Time: you might need to take time to process your conversation and same as your conversation partner. Giving the required time you both to come around is essential.

4. You matter: No matter the person in question, be it your boss, your partner, your friend, your family, you have to understand that you matter, how you feel matters and if you feel unsettled, anxious or disturbed about something no matter how insignificant it looks then you should definitely address it. Like Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen said in their book Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most “each person must recognize that her views and feelings are no less (and no more) legitimate and important than anyone else’s”

5. You are not problematic: most people don’t want to address an issue head-on because they don’t want to seem problematic. You are not problematic by addressing an issue that bothers you or setting boundaries.

6. Disagreements are good: your opinion, feelings and thoughts would not always align with people around you and accepting that is freeing. “We have different interpretations of the same event/decision/issue. Our interpretations come from different life experiences that have shaped the lens through which we see people, workplace issues, etc.” says Stone, Patton and Heen. So your own thoughts are not inferior to every other person’s. When you think differently, honour your thoughts and yourself by voicing it out that way you affirm yourself till you trust in yourself more.

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Toyin Zuleiha

I like to expand your perspective and world view with my words. How To Put Yourself Out There on Social Media- https://skl.sh/3HOaxr4 course #ZuleihaXpressions