Reasons Why We Avoid Difficult Conversations


It doesn’t matter whether you’re a leader of a multi-million-dollar corporation, a freelancer, or a stay-at-home mom - sometimes you will need to have difficult conversations with a variety of people in your life. These conversations are never easy and it's common to put them off. Here are some reasons why.

* Don’t Like Rocking the Boat – Face it; it’s hard to be the one who has to toss things around and get people discussing difficult things. You may even feel like you are the problem and not the situation because you’re the one who wants to have the conversation. But, when something is bothering you a lot, it’s best to let go of these feelings and rock the boat. Remember, nothing ever got done without a good shake-up now and then.

* Don’t Want to Seem Selfish – We’ve been taught our entire lives that asking for what we want is selfish, either through actions or deeds. It may have started with your 100-item Christmas list, but eventually, you got the message. Wanting too much is wrong. But, what if what you want is fair and not wrong? For example, when asking for a raise, if you have the facts on your side about everything, are you selfish? No. You’re just asking for what you deserve. 

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* We Tend to Put Ourselves Last – This is mostly true for women, but there could be a few men in this camp too. We spend our time taking care of everything else and everyone else, and before we know it we’re just out of gas. Instead of putting yourself last, have the difficult conversations and put yourself first so that you have more to give.

* We Think Saying No is Rude – Just like we were told our 100-item Christmas list was bad, so was saying no. From the age of two, most of us we learned that saying "no" is bad. But is it really? Of course not. Saying no is necessary and something you should practice regularly. 

* We Don’t Want to Feel Uncomfortable – Let's face it; talking about certain things makes everyone uncomfortable, and we don’t like feeling that way. Most of us will avoid feeling uncomfortable at any cost. But what if you realized the cost was higher than you thought? When you add up all the times you could have made things better after feeling bad for ten minutes, would you then do it?

* We Think We Don’t Have Time – Sometimes it really does seem easier to just do stuff ourselves. This is also a common female problem. We are exhausted when we finish working, but do we come home and put our feet up? No. We fix dinner for the family, throw in a load of washing, and drop dead at 11 pm on the couch. Have those difficult conversations so that you don’t waste time doing more than you should. 

* We Are Afraid of the Consequences – Some difficult conversations can have consequences we don’t want. For example, a freelancer asking for a raise might end up without the contract. A woman wanting to get married to her long-time boyfriend might end up without a boyfriend if he’s serious about not marrying. It can be hard but in truth, don’t you really want to know where you stand?

* We Don’t Want to Hurt Anyone – This is especially true when it comes to having to talk to someone whose behavior you wish to change. It can be hard to explain to someone why what they’re doing is not acceptable, or how their performance isn’t up to par. But, you’re really doing them a favor. If you don’t tell them, they may not be able to advance in their career or in life.

The truth is, the longer you put off having a difficult conversation with someone, the more stress you cause yourself and the worse the situation will become. In fact, you’re in more danger of realizing whatever it is you fear by not having the conversation than by having the conversation, so you may as well get it done.


Anna D. Banks, MAS, is a business coach, trainer, speaker and host of the Better Biz Better You Show (http// podcast. Anna works mainly with women professionals and business owners who desire a bigger business and self-development.  She facilitates workshops, seminars, training, and coaching to entrepreneurs, and owners of small and mid-sized business. In addition to her extensive training, business development and media experience, Anna is a John Maxwell Certified Coach and a Certified D.I.S.C. Behavioral Studies Trainer.

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The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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