The Art of Thoughtful Communication

Have you ever found yourself in a conversation where you just didn’t know what to say? In the modern world, navigating difficult conversations is an essential skill. Whether in personal or professional settings, when sensitive topics, and emotions come into play, finding the right words to say isn’t an easy feat.

As a conscious leader, these tricky conversations are inevitable and it is important to practice thoughtful communication by being aware of our words and their impact. To handle difficult conversations with empathy and clarity we have pulled together some practical strategies for you to implement.

1. Pause and Think

When faced with a difficult conversation, it is important not to react in the moment, but to pause before responding. Rather than getting caught up in emotions, this brief moment allows you to gather your thoughts and choose words that are considerate and appropriate for the situation. This practice of pausing helps prevent situations in which tensions may escalate due to misunderstanding or misjudgements.

2. Acknowledge and Validate Feelings

It is important to not only understand your feelings, but also others. Addressing these emotions allows yourself and the individual to level set on the situation before it escalates.

In conflict situations, using “I” statements can help express your feelings without blaming or criticizing the other person. For instance, saying “I feel concerned when we don’t communicate clearly” is less confrontational than “You never tell me what’s going on.”

When someone is sharing their feelings, especially if they are upset or hurt, acknowledging and validating those feelings is crucial. Phrases like “I understand this is really tough for you” or “It sounds like you’re really frustrated” can make the other person feel heard and respected. 

3. Seek Understanding

To keep the conversation flowing and show empathy, try asking open ended questions. These types of questions encourage the other person to elaborate on their thoughts and feelings so that you can better understand their point of view. For example, instead of asking, “Are you okay?” try “How are you feeling about what happened?”

4. Offer Support and Solutions

After listening and validating, it’s helpful to offer support or suggest solutions. This could be as simple as asking, “Is there anything I can do to help?” or “Would it be helpful if we discussed this further?” Offering tangible support shows that you are willing to help resolve the issue.

And remember what you say, is not always what someone hears, and vice versa – so don’t forget – pause, validate, understand and support.

Interested in more?

Check out our YouTube where you can find videos from other virtual gatherings including expert, Sam Horn, who covers the topic of “Talking on Eggshells” in two live recorded sessions. Or Check out our bookstore to find your next favorite read.