Leader Emotions

Plan How You Want to Feel; List Feelings as an Outcome

Finding The Other Side of That Hard Conversation

Step 5: Back to Feelings

In step 2 of reducing the stress and having those hard conversations I talked about letting go of the emotional slant of the situations and just focusing on the facts. This is an important step to shape the content of your conversation and also the attitude you bring to it.

Now that we’ve diffused the negative emotions and started to plan this conversation I want you to bring emotions back into the mix. This time, however, I want you to consider how you want to feel after the conversation is over, and also how you want the other person to feel as well.

Now, we all know you can’t control how another person feels. This isn’t about being controlling. This is setting an intention and letting that guide you.

As a leader in your own life, you want to be clear on the affect you want to have on those around you. Many people mismanage their lives because they act without any regard for the consequences of their actions. They are so focused on themselves and what they need; they fail to consider that the emotional wake they leave behind could actually be working against them.

How do you want each of you to feel on the other side of this conversation?

Leader Emotions

Be honest with yourself about how you want the other person to feel after talking with you. Be clear on why you want them to feel that way and consider if it will work for or against you. List these out.

For yourself:

  • How do I want to feel at the end of the conversation?
  • Why do I want to feel this way?
  • Is this for my benefit ONLY; or will it help the situation?

For the person you are talking to:

  • How do I want them to feel at the end of the conversation?
  • WHY do I want them to feel this way?
  • Will this work for or against me?
  • If it may work against me, how can I turn it into a positive?

If you want the other person to feel warm and fuzzy after the conversation your approach will be somewhat different than if you just want them to hear you out and acknowledge what you have to say. Again, starting with the end in mind will determine how you interact with the other person.


  • If this is a conversation you are going to have with your mother, and you want her to be clear you still love her at the end of this conversation, your approach will be gentle yet direct.
  • If you are talking to a long-standing team member whose behavior is declining and is setting a bad example to junior team members, the approach you take will be more firm. You’ll want this senior member to walk away feeling that they’ve been called to account, yet still feeling you support their success.

Knowing exactly where you want to leave the other person emotionally will help to guide your tone, choice of words and body language during your conversation. It will also be a north star, so to speak, if the conversation should take any twists or turns.

When you know what behavior changes you want to see and how you want the other person to feel after the conversation, you can respond to almost any unknown you may experience during the conversation and adapt your approach accordingly.

What are your biggest concerns when you start planning to have what you believe will be a difficult conversation?

Leave a comment below and if you’re getting something out of this series, share it with a friend.