Whether as a leader in your profession, or in your personal life, avoiding difficult conversations sows seeds of trouble. The more we hold off on having an important but difficult conversation, the greater the strain we put into that relationship. Our ability to have difficult conversations is an important skill.
Have you ever avoided a confrontation by convincing yourself that:
“You can’t afford to lose her”.
“It will eventually get better”.
“Things might get worse?”
“His performance results outweigh his attitude problems”.
“She is three years from retirement anyways”.
You are not alone. So why do we tend to put it off?
There are several reasons why you may be avoiding these type of conversations. What is important, is to identify which one of the following reasons is preventing you from having them. Once you know why you are procrastinating, you can start working on disciplining yourself to schedule that one on one you have been avoiding.
Need some guidance? On my next post, I will be giving you some tips on, “How to have difficult conversations.”
Here are 6 Reasons Why We Avoid Having Difficult Conversations:
Imprints of your past
Having had a bad experience in your past after having a difficult conversation leaves imprints on your mind. These memories may not even be conscious but the negative emotion shows up when you are faced with the possibility of having a confrontation. The thought of having the discussion triggers those hidden feelings.
If this is true to you, it is important to recognize why this is happening and then find a way to begin to heal that part of your past.
Confrontations of any sort leave us vulnerable. Most people are not comfortable with conflict and therefore try to avoid it. They prefer the path of least resistance.
Lack of Time
As a manager, I often hear a phrase similar to this, “I don’t have time to meet with Jennifer about her performance”. What is important to realize is that not taking the time today, will lead to more headaches and strain later. You cannot “put off” what is important. Eventually, the consequences catch up to you and the repairs take longer the more you wait.
If you have no time to fix that knocking noise in your car, don’t be surprised when the problem snowballs and ends up costing you twice as much to fix.
It can be a drain on your energy to mentally prepare yourself to go through the process of having a difficult conversation, not to mention having the conversation itself. Depending on the type of discussion, it can be a real test to your attitude. Most people prefer to avoid the whole process as a measure of self-defence.
Easier Not To?
Or so you may think. Of course, in the moment, avoiding the conflict is easier. What you need to remember is the complications it will cause after. Do you prefer tackling a problem immediately or holding it off until the last possible moment?
It may also come down to fear for a variety of reasons, not excluding any of the above 5 reasons. You may fear that you won’t know how to handle the repercussions, or what the other person might think of you.
Next time you find yourself holding off on that all too important conversation, try to figure out what is keeping you from having it.
Which of the above reasons held you off from having your last difficult conversation?