How to Lose in Hard Conversations

I'm not the best in difficult conversations. I constantly fight the desire to be a people-pleaser and a tendency to give too much, skirt around hard issues, worry too much about feelings, and not just come out and say what needs to be said... especially when it's the hard thing. I guess that's why they call them "hard conversations."

But I have learned one sure fire way to lose in hard conversations, whether you're dealing with a car dealer or confronting a sin issue. The easiest possible way to lose big in hard conversations is to get angry.

It's my understanding that boxers are trained this way too. Despite the fact that boxers win points by beating the fire out of each other, they're trained to keep their emotions under control because the first boxer to lose his cool inevitably loses the match.

If your anger gets out of control you can't think clearly, process information as accurately, or respond appropriately. When that's the case, you are physically unable to accomplish the goals of the conversation.

When I am headed into a conversation I know will be difficult, I always put my goals for the conversation on paper before I go into the discussion. I also think about the things that could distract from those goals. That forces me to stay focused in a conversation, to keep my emotions in check, and to remember what I'm trying to accomplish. It also helps me anticipate outcomes.

When I can't anticipate the conversation ahead of time I try to always remind myself to slow down, listen carefully, and pay special attention to my emotions so they don't ever get out of control.

The first person to get angry loses the conversation. Keep it in check.