When you’re having a difficult conversation, it’s probably one of these 6 things.

Sarah Albo | Your Conflict Coach
8 min readAug 24, 2020

You already know not to argue when you’re hungry, right?

Some conversations are more difficult than others, and there are generally six reasons this is the case. Understanding where your challenges lie is a helpful first step in making the conversation easier. We can’t avoid conflict, but we can look at the source of the difficulty to help find more productive responses to get it resolved.

It wasn’t always this difficult or stressful. Something’s happened between you and a colleague at work or with your manager and now you have to talk about it. Or you’re the manager and you have to give feedback to someone on your team. Things can’t continue the way they have been lately, but what are you going to say? Are they going to argue with you? Will it get heated? Will it actually get resolved! (Sorry, that was a lot of questions at once and I know conflict is stressful enough.)

Interpersonal conflict is never easy, especially when the future relationship is important. Conflict becomes even more difficult when we factor in what we think about it. You might be worried about how it will go, someone saying the wrong thing, or emotions escalating. Ultimately, it’s our perception of it that shifts our differences to difficulties. For the most part, the longer we put the conversation off, the longer we may stress over it, which could lead to trying to avoid it altogether (one way the brain keeps us safe from danger).

Avoidance is certainly one way to approach it but it’s unlikely to be the solution. The problem has more chance of getting worse than it does going away, so the sooner we undertake the conversation, the sooner we can come to a resolution. There’s other benefits of dealing with your conflict: you may get clarity about values (yours and theirs), you’ll minimize uncertainty, there’s mutual involvement so everyone’s interests get factored in, and it has the potential to bring people together and it can actually improve relationships. Not to mention the relief you’ll feel afterwards and less regret than if you didn’t deal with the situation.

These conversations may be difficult for a combination of reasons. Once we’re able to look at what makes them so challenging, they become much more…

Sarah Albo | Your Conflict Coach

I write about dealing with conflict in our personal and professional lives.