Leader Facts

Reduce Your Stress By Focusing On The Facts

Finding The Other Side of That Hard Conversation

Step 2: Focus on the facts

There’s nothing better when you’re seeing eye-to-eye with another person. You are on the same page and feeling connected; very little effort is needed to communicate a feeling, idea or experience. Over time the relationship naturally becomes stronger and more intimate. Life is good.

However, even in the closest of relationships misunderstandings can crop up. One person is not at their emotional or mental best, something happens and intentions are misconstrued. Life happens, someone has an off day, week, month, etc.

Bottom line is that even in the best situations, there will be circumstances when things are not going as well as planned and you will need to have a conversation with the other person.  Chances are, if you are experiencing any stress, there’s a conversation that needs to happen.

Last week we started a series of posts on how to reduce the stress around having these types of conversations. First and foremost, to make sure you are seeing the other person as a partner rather than an adversary. This is to make sure you are going about this conversation with an attitude that will engender a spirit of cooperation with the other person.

In this post we’re going to cover the second step in reducing your stress around having a hard conversation. You do this by getting to the heart of the matter, stripping away all the emotion and drama that can cloud our reasoning.

Leader FactsThe second step is to: take a factual accounting of what is going on in this situation

Emotions are great red flags to make us aware of when one of our values is being infringed upon. Much like when we put our hand to a hot pan and the pain letting us know to remove our hand quickly, emotions let us know when we need to react to a situation we currently find ourselves in.

Emotions are great signals and guides but if you hold on to them for too long it’s like leaving a smoke detector going after the smoke has cleared. It clouds your judgment; you can’t think straight.

  • Acknowledge the emotion and the value it is connected to without judgment. You feel this way and you have every right to feel this way given your values and how you perceived what happened.
  • Now take a few breaths, come back to the present moment and focus on “what happened” that made you upset.
  • Take any malicious intent on the part of the other person out of your account. Recognize you don’t know the other person’s motives at this point. Zero in on the behavior and leave accusation out of it. Stick to the facts.

Don’t worry; the goal here is not to make you cold and emotionless. We’ll come back to that.

For now, you’ll want to:

  • Logically list out actions and what was said without any judgment of good/bad or right/wrong.

If you struggle with this step on your own recruit a friend or associate to help you to talk it out. And if you still struggle, don’t judge yourself too harshly. Depending on “what happened” you may still be recovering from the initial shock or emotional overload. If this is the case give yourself some time to cool off.

I find, though, talking it out with a trusted person usually helps in releasing any pent up emotion. You may need to repeat “what happened” several times before you feel anything close to a sense of calm.

Have a question? Struggled with the exercise or want to share? Leave a comment below!