Difficult Conversations: How To Always Stay In Control

I feel myself getting agitated while I speak. What are you doing? I keep getting faster and faster. You should know better. I explain my point as clearly as possible, while I see the other person getting more and more defensive. I just can’t seem to stop. I’ve been here many times before. He’s stopped listening a long time ago and at this point, I’m just wasting my energy. I relax and let go of the point I was trying to communicate. I calm down and breath deeply. I open up, and in that way, I calm him down as well. I start to listen.


What is good communication in a nutshell? Listening, being calm and conveying positive emotions with your eyes. If you can just do that you will know exactly when to say that small little thing to make someone reconsider and you will understand the other person deeply. Obviously, you might also learn something. You see, every conversation is an emotional exchange, if you like it or not. That’s how we humans are. Have you ever noticed that some people just can’t have a serious conversation about anything? They use every opportunity to get a quick laugh. That is their emotional craving. They need that. Ever met someone who always seems to position herself as the embarrassed object of a joke? Yup, she needs that. And how about the guy that tries to make everybody happy all the time? You guessed right, he needs that. So to recognize the socioemotional needs is the first step to good communication.


1. When you talk to a anyone, the first thing to recognize is what they emotionally crave. Is it approval? Being liked? Being made fun of? Being admired? Being taken seriously? The way you feel about these needs will decide how deep the conversation will go. If you gladly provide it to them, you will feed into their reality and the conversation stays at the surface. Welcome to small talk.


This is of course just step 1 and I personally dislike small talk. It’s superficial and no fun at all to me. I always try to go deep if the person is interesting enough and I have the time. The trouble with emotional cravings is, that they are not under the surface hidden somewhere deep down, they are usually demanded constantly. A few words here, a fake smile there and look to the ground all scream please approve of me or whatever their specific need is. If you yourself still have that same need inside of you, it will be a so-called difficult conversation.

Eckhart Tolle calls it a pain body. If your own pain body meets itself in another person of the same type, it will resonate and you will feel that as pain and anxiety. Take this example: If a person is really angry, but inside of you there is just no resonance with that, you will be calm and kind, effortlessly. In his book Social Intelligence, Daniel Goleman talks about a story of an old man in a subway, who through kindness brings a violent drunk to tears. That’s it. He had no violence within him, so when the drunk looked for it in his eyes, it could not be found. That goes for anything people crave from you, which is not purely physical. If you can ignore it while staying open and kind they will open up like a flower. So, Nr 2:


2. Practise not feeding into the weaker parts of people’s personalities, because if you do that, you will only nurture the weaker parts of your own personalitiy. If you ignore their weaknesses, while stay open and curious, they will start to open up to you naturally.


This might sound like not communicating at all to some, because there is little talking on your part…. at least in the beginning. Imagine the opposite: you try to small talk yourself into suddenly knowing someone? You explaining something to someone who is just waiting for his turn to speak? This will not work and in the end you’ll have to listen. But remember: This is for people who are closed-minded in the area of the conversation and it does not mean that you must always listen almost exclusively to have a really good conversation. This is the short cut to a deep connection, be it to someone who is emotionally troubled or also, to someone who is otherwise interesting to you. And, at last:


3. The number one way of communicating effectively is to be curious about the person in front of you. That will make you think from the other persons perspective and immediately generate empathy.


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