A few weeks ago, I wrote about one side of the difficult discussion, the need to have it, and how it feels to deliver the not so happy message. This week I want to explore the other side, the receiver, there are always multiple sides to every story. We have all been on the receiving end of something we just did not want to hear and I am sure the reactions have varied. I can only speak from my own experiences but maybe you have similar feelings.
I have always told those I work with, tell me straight don’t sugarcoat anything, I may not like it but I can handle it. Since I have requested this, I have received information this way, I have not always reacted in the same way nor has it been the best way, is there a best way? I don’t think there is a best way. I rarely get instantly or visibly angry when I am on the receiving end of a difficult discussion, I become quiet, recluse and hot, sweaty hot. I realize that I become the person you don’t want to deliver a message to. Reason being, I need to absorb what you have said and think about it, chart my course. I will respond to you in the initial conversation but it will be limited and seemingly curt, and it probably is. No wonder there is so much prep work to holding a difficult discussion, I am not even sure I would want to have one with myself, truth.
I also do not always want a follow-up conversation (even though it is necessary), sometimes, I will take your feedback, swallow it like lemon juice, think about it, and fix whatever the issue is. Other times, I just hold onto it and allow it to fester. I know others do this too and this is where we need to put our big girl pants on and have the follow up discussion to clear the air. Sometimes, it is OK to agree to disagree, respectfully. However, if there is proof staring you in the face, as hard as it is, own up to it. I have not done so successfully over the years. Once I do actually accept it, I look for change in some way or another which looking back on it can appear as I am running away.
I realize even as an adult, I don’t want to be told what to do or told when I am wrong; I will fight to the death (not literally). In this process, I have not been at my best. I have also had to learn the difficult task of not shooting the messenger. This holds true when the message has been delivered from my child, my parent, my partner, my boss, or my colleague. In retrospect, I have not always handled the situation as a shining example and from time to time have made the situation more uncomfortable, but I am human and emotions take over sometimes, even when you do your best to hold them in.
Difficult discussions are just that, difficult and uncomfortable, for all involved. Take a step back, breathe, be rational, professional, and most of all true to you (I am trying to do this everyday).