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How to Handle Difficult Conversations

Managing Negative Internal Monologue

Whether or not you're aware of it, your internal monologue is going on almost all the time!

To deal effectively with difficult conversations, you'll need to recognize your negative internal monologue and

replace it with one that's positive.

There are four steps to changing your negative internal monologue into a positive one.

Step 1

Step one is is to be aware  of your negative inner voice. 

Your inner voice can also consist of negative thoughts that challenge your judgment and self-esteem. 

It warns you about the worst that can happen, saying you'll fail, you'll embarrass yourself, people won't like you, or you'll make them mad. If you let it, a negative inner voice can grow stronger, promoting fear and anxiety, and painting a negative picture of your abilities as a manager.

But once you're aware of your inner voice, you'll be able to challenge it.

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Step 2

Visualize - Consider all the potential outcomes of having the conversation – not just the negative ones.

Take time in advance to imagine the conversation, considering the implications of how you might react in different situations.

Of course you can't always predict another person's reaction to what you have to say. But you'll be more confident when you're prepared to be agile in your approach to what you're trying to communicate and how you deliver your message.

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Step 3

Focus on the goal of the conversation. 

It will help you having a clear goal defines the purpose of the conversation and makes the encounter less threatening.

It can also frame the discussion by giving it a beginning and an end point. This helps to deal with anxiety and fear

of the unknown.

Focusing on your goal will prepare you to engage the other person in envisioning a positive outcome for the


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Step 4

Develop a positive internal monologue. This involves "reframing" – taking your negative thoughts and translating them into something helpful.

If preparing for a conversation triggers a negative internal monologue, stop and think about whether there's apositive reason be ind that train of thought. What is it your inner voice is trying to achieve? Perhaps you're trying to protect yourself from failure.

Reframing allows you to consider positive ways to achieve the same intention.

Instead of "I can't afford to fail," change your perspective to "Here's what I can achieve."

It can also help to turn the negative thought into a question. For example, "He'll hate me if I tell him" might become "How can I minimize the impact of this conversation on our relationship?" Or "This will never work" becomes "How can I make this work?"

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