black man apologizing while talking with girlfriend

Getting Past the Fear: Navigating Difficult Conversations

Share with:


Talking to people can sometimes be tricky, especially when the topic is tough. However, these difficult conversations are a necessary part of life. They help us to grow, understand others, and work out issues. Let’s explore why we dodge tough talks, the common errors we make, and how we can overcome this fear and find harmony after difficult discussions.

Why Do We Run Away from Difficult Conversations?

Think about when you have a super messy room and your mom tells you to clean it up. It seems so big and scary that you’d rather just ignore it and hope it goes away. But does it ever go away? Nope, it just gets messier. That’s kind of how we treat tough talks. They feel big and scary, like a huge pile of dirty clothes and toys. We might be afraid of making someone upset, or worried they might not like us anymore. We could also be scared of causing a big fuss or not knowing what might happen next. So, instead of dealing with it, we decide to ignore it. But guess what? Just like that messy room, the problem doesn’t disappear. It just keeps growing and becoming a bigger mess.

Common Mistakes We Make in Difficult Conversations

Have you ever had to apologize for breaking your friend’s toy but ended up talking about how it wasn’t really your fault? Or maybe you started a chat with your sister about who should do the dishes and it turned into a fight about who’s the better sibling? That’s because we sometimes make mistakes when we’re having hard talks. One big oopsie we often do is forgetting what we wanted to say because our feelings are like a rollercoaster going up, down, and all over the place! Another goof is thinking we can read minds and guess what the other person is thinking or feeling. Like, we might think our brother is mad at us for eating his cookies, but maybe he’s upset because he had a bad day at school. Lastly, it’s pretty common to interrupt or talk over the person we’re chatting with because we’re so eager to get our point across. But this is like covering their mouth with duct tape. It’s not nice, and it stops us from really understanding what they’re trying to say.

How Can We Overcome the Fear of Difficult Conversations?

So, how do we become brave enough to have these scary talks? It’s like getting ready to jump off the high dive at the pool. You’ve got to prepare yourself. Before you even start the conversation, think about what you really want to say and the best way to say it. It’s like practicing your cannonball before you actually leap! Also, try to imagine what the other person might be thinking or feeling. This helps us remember that they have feelings, too, and that we need to be gentle with our words. Most importantly, we should practice active listening. This is like playing a game of catch. We have to listen to what they’re saying (catch the ball), think about it, and then respond (throw the ball back). Remember, it’s not about who can shout the loudest or who gets the last word. It’s about understanding each other and finding a solution that works for everyone, just like picking a game that all your friends can play and enjoy.

How to Use PILLOW Method 

Let’s imagine you’re about to play a new video game. Would you jump in without learning the controls or knowing the rules? Probably not, right? That’s why when we’re dealing with tough talks, we can use a special set of rules called the PILLOW method to help us navigate through. It’s like the instruction manual for difficult conversations!

PILLOW stands for Pause, Identify, Listen, Lean in, Own, and Wrap-up. Let’s break down what these words mean in this game of conversation.

‘Pause’ is like hitting the pause button on your game. Take a moment to calm down and clear your head before you start the talk. It’s like taking a deep breath before you dive into the pool. 

Next, ‘Identify’. This means figuring out what the real problem is and what you hope to achieve from the conversation. It’s like choosing the right weapon to defeat the boss in your game.

Then comes ‘Listen’. Remember the catch and throw game? This is your chance to catch the ball. Focus on what the other person is saying, not just on what you want to say next.

‘Lean in’ means to show empathy. Try to understand their point of view, even if you don’t agree with it. This is like helping a teammate in the game, even though you’re on different teams.

‘Own’ is about taking responsibility for your part in the problem. This is like admitting that maybe you made a bad move in the game and it’s not just your game console’s fault.

Finally, ‘Wrap-up’. This is where you summarize what you both agreed on. It’s like the game score at the end of the round, showing you the results of your teamwork.

So next time you’re faced with a tough talk, think of it as a game. Use your PILLOW method instruction manual, and remember, the goal isn’t to beat the other person. It’s to understand them, find a solution together, and come out stronger on the other side!

How to Actually Have the Conversation

When it’s time to finally have the tough chat, it’s kind of like getting ready for a big race. You’ve got to pick the right moment and the perfect spot. Imagine you’re at the starting line, ready to go. You kick things off by sharing your feelings and thoughts, but in a respectful way, like passing the baton in a relay race. Then, it’s their turn. You let them speak without butting in, even if you’re bursting to say something. If things start getting too hot, like if someone’s running too fast in the race, it’s okay to slow down and take a water break. The biggest thing is to be truthful, take your time, and keep an open mind, just like a good sport.

Some Helpful Tips

Tackling complex and delicate conversations can feel as daunting as facing a challenging, new level in a high-stakes video game. But worry not! Think of these guidelines as your ultimate cheat sheet, or better yet, a collection of master cheat codes that are here to ensure your success. Let’s dive into the nuanced world of successful communication.

Firstly, it’s essential to manifest yourself as an active and good listener. Think of it like when your virtual team mate provides critical instructions during an important mission in a game; demonstrating your attentiveness through nodding, maintaining eye contact or verbally affirming your understanding, like saying “I see” or “Uh-huh,” helps build a trusting rapport. This strategy isn’t just limited to the virtual realm; these signals of active listening also translate into the real-world conversations and debates, allowing the speaker to feel heard and respected.

How to Resolve Differences in Family(Opens in a new browser tab)

Secondly, we’ll consider the importance of simplifying our messages. We have all experienced moments in video games when we try to perform too many moves at once, only to have our avatar fall off a skateboard or tumble down a slope. The same principle applies to communicating our thoughts and feelings – the more complex we make our message, the harder it is for others to grasp. Thus, avoid the temptation of indulging in overly elaborate expressions or intricate words. Instead, be direct and clear; simplicity aids in better comprehension and decreases chances of miscommunication.

The third point underscores the essence of a dialogue – it’s not a solo performance, but rather a dynamic exchange of thoughts and feelings. This is not a game of tag where only one person takes the stage while the other waits for their turn. Instead, conversations should involve active participation from both parties, taking turns in speaking and listening. It’s critical to not just react, but to actively respond to the other person’s statements, promoting a more connected and empathetic conversation.

Emotions play a key role in any interaction, so discussing your feelings should never be overlooked. Imagine your favorite game character suffering a devastating blow; you would naturally feel upset. The same idea applies to our conversations. We should not shy away from expressing our emotions; they often reflect our deepest concerns and priorities, fostering deeper understanding and bonding.

Remember to pepper your conversation with frequent connecting statements. These act like bonus points in a game. Affirmative phrases such as “I understand where you’re coming from” or “I see why you feel that way” reassure the speaker of your empathetic standpoint and your shared connection.

Making Things Work After a Difficult Conversation

Just like finishing a big test or a hard game level, you can feel pretty relieved when a tough talk is over. But guess what? Just like after a test, there’s still work to do. First, say thank you to the other person for taking the time to chat. This is like giving your opponent a high-five at the end of a match. Then, let them know you’re hopeful about making things better in the future. This is like saying, “Good game, let’s play again sometime!” After that, spend some quiet time thinking about the conversation, just like you would review a test to learn from your mistakes. Try to figure out what to do next, kind of like planning your strategy for the next level in a game. Even if the conversation was like the hardest boss fight ever, remember that you’re moving towards a better relationship. It’s like leveling up in real life!

The Power of Courageous Conversations for Our Mind and Body

Ever had a stomachache before a big math test or felt really tired after a long day at school? That’s because what happens in our head can affect how our body feels. Well, brave talks can be a bit like a superpower for our mind and body. Think of them like a superhero workout, making us stronger and healthier!

Imagine if you’re carrying a super heavy backpack. It’s filled with books, lunch box, gym clothes, and even your little brother’s toy car he asked you to hold. Now, imagine you’re carrying this heavy load all day. It would make you super tired, right? Well, stress from not having those tough talks is kind of like that heavy backpack. It can make us feel tired, give us headaches, or even make our tummy hurt. 

But once we have these brave talks, it’s like finally putting that heavy backpack down. Our body feels lighter, and we can breathe easier. We might even feel a little taller, like we’ve just won a trophy! Plus, the stress starts to go away, and we feel much better.

And that’s not all! Having tough talks can make us feel good about ourselves, kind of like getting an ‘A+’ on a test or scoring the winning goal in soccer. We feel proud, confident, and it’s like we’ve leveled up in the game of life.

And you know the best part? The more we practice these brave conversations, the better we get at them. It’s like practicing our favorite video game or a cool new skateboard trick. We might mess up a few times at first, but with each try, we get better and better. So, brave conversations aren’t just good for our mind and body right now, they’re also helping us grow into super cool grown-ups in the future!


So, tough talks might seem scary, like standing at the top of a giant slide. But remember, we have our trusty PILLOW guide to help us down that slide! We take a deep breath, figure out what we want to say, listen, try to understand the other person, admit when we’ve messed up, and sum up what we’ve agreed on. Remember, this isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about understanding each other, finding a solution, and making our relationships better, just like picking up all the toys and making your room a fun place to play again. So, let’s not be scared of tough talks. Let’s be brave and have them, because they can bring more happiness, peace, and good vibes into our lives. Just like making it down that giant slide, we’ll feel so awesome and proud once we’ve done it!

One Reply to “Getting Past the Fear: Navigating Difficult Conversations”

Comments are closed.