Turn Tough Conversations Into Positive Ones

As we wind up Live Happy’s 90 Days to a Happier You challenge, communication expert Michele Gravelle gives us a final cheat sheet for making difficult conversations into healthy, productive ones.


We’ve covered a lot of ground these past few weeks, and I trust you’ve been practicing some of the conversational tools that I have gone over with Live Happy contributing editor Susan Kane. For my third and final blog, I’d like to give you three tips for carrying these concepts forward and making them work in your everyday conversations. The goal, of course, is for you to build and grow relationships, both at work and at home.

1. Think of your effect.

If you have an important message, feedback or a response that you want to share with someone, first think about how both the information you’re sharing and your delivery will affect the other person. What is your motive? If it is to lash out, retaliate, “set the record straight,” prove a point or show the other person is wrong, then you are not in a good position to have the conversation. Wait until you are genuinely curious about what the other person has to say and then engage in a dialogue.

2. Pause and be curious.

Train yourself to pause before you react. Do a mental scan and think about your life as well as  the other person’s life. What’s going on? How might your thoughts about the other person leak into your conversation? It takes self-awareness and persistence to change the behaviors that get in the way of a productive, healthy dialogue.

3. Take responsibility for your own behavior.

One of the most masterful moves you can make is to take responsibility for the words you say and actions you take. The more self-awareness you demonstrate and the more responsibility you are willing to take for your words and actions, the more you set the stage for a productive, neutral conversation.

Remember, what you say and do does one of three things to your relationship:

  • Nurtures it
  • Changes nothing
  • Damages or hurts it

Susan and I covered a lot of ground these past few weeks, and I hope that some of what we have shared in our stories will help you in your own conversations and relationships. The more you practice these behaviors, the more they will become part of your natural conversational mojo!

Best of luck to all of you!

Read Michele's first blog here.

Read Michele's second blog here.

Listen to Michele on our podcast here.


Michele Gravelle is an experienced executive coach, communications expert and consultant with The Triad Consulting Group. She also facilitates executive education programs at the Harvard Negotiation Institute and Duke Corporate Education, and is a contributing author to the book Enlightened Power: How Women Are Transforming the Path to Leadership.

Facebook comments