When I had a difficult conversation I had to have, I used to play out the talk in my head. I would think out words the person might respond with and I would think about my response to their response. I would go through every possibility I could think of, so I would have a rebuttal. So I would be prepared.
Inevitably, they would say something unexpected. or mean.
And then, I would flounder. All my carefully thought through arguments would dissipate. They would leave me feeling stranded and sideswiped and stupid.
Or, and perhaps even worse, I would have the conversation with myself and feel as though it happened. Because I had talked it through so much in my head, part of me would feel like I’d already talked to that person.
Or, and definitely worse, I would be angry with the person for the conversation we never had. My blood pressure would spike. I would start in a space where the person had responded with the ugly, hateful things. But that had only happened in my head.
I hated how that made me feel and how unfair it was to the person.
And so I stopped. Instead of focusing on the fiction in my head, I focused on facts. I stopped playing through the conversation before hand, but listened to what the other person had to say in real-time.
Did I get it perfect? Yeah, not so much. But I tried.
What do you do for difficult conversations?