Avoiding a Difficult Conversation? Start with Self-Compassion

Dreading the thought of a tense conversation? Here’s why you’re not alone, and how you can bring the wisdom of self-compassion to bear on those discussions you don’t really want to have.

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There are a few things I want you to remember about difficult conversations: 

You’re not avoiding difficult conversations because you’re bad or broken. Your brain is protecting you.  Self-compassion helps you face the discomfort of tough conversations. Self-compassion is not selfish or passive. It’s courageous. 

With that in mind, it is crucial that we not only start having difficult conversations, but that we start learning to master them. Along the way, practicing self-compassion is key to transforming the muck of difficult interactions—the blame, shame, resentment, and anxiety—into moments of connection, solutions, and leadership in our relationships at home and at work.

There have been conversations I was far from mastering. Many years ago, a trainee of mine was falling far short of what her clients needed. The focus for her appeared to be compulsive overdoing in a grab for recognition. She even fell asleep in session with a client! When awake, she often pushed her agendas on clients and had a large no-show rate.

She was also personally connected to someone I felt indebted to. Falling prey to an old habit of avoiding the discomfort of confrontation, I…