Sharing Potentially Upsetting Information
Updated: Apr 25, 2019
On occasions we find ourselves in situations where we need to tell someone something important, yet we don’t want to because we don’t want to upset them and what we need to share is likely to do so. Usually it is a hard truth that needs to be shared in their best interest. Sometimes its telling someone dear to us we can’t do something thing they want us to do or want to do something they don’t want us to do. Now and again it is telling them someone has broken their trust.
These conversations need to be thoughtfully prepared for and delivered.
First consider if it really is a critical conversation that you are considering. Do you really need to have the conversation? Is it appropriate? Consider why you wish to share the information. What is your desired out come and is it in the best interest for all involved? This will help you address the double bind you may be in by providing clarity of intent. It is important to consider what you want, long term, for the relationship.
Next carefully select your words. How you say something can make a huge difference. It is best to focus on your perspective and concerns using ‘I’ statements.
Now create the space. This includes selecting the place and time to maximise their receptiveness and give them time to take in the information you are sharing.
Immediately before approaching them for the conversation take the time to prepare your self. Hold the ‘Wonder Woman’ or ‘Superman’ pose for 2 minutes, while thinking of your favorite things. This adds the magic ingredients of confidence and positivity.
Invite them into the space and do your best to ‘hold’ the space for them. If they react intentionally be open to their response while staying calm, as best you can.
Begin the conversation by stating how you value them and your relationship with them, how you are concerned about sharing the information and why it’s important to you to share it. Where possible include your desired outcome, the outcome maybe to explore options around the challenge that needs to be addressed. Then, as clearly and confidently as you can share the information directly and concisely.
You and them
Accept and validate any emotional response. Keep in mind it is likely to be an automatic reaction. If needed give them time to consider what you have said by staying quiet or offer gentle reassurance. Time allows them to process their emotions so that can consider a true response. It is for this reason ‘holding’ the space is so valuable. They may need to go away, create more space, to process it before being able to respond.
In summary prepare and deliver the important information with respectful consideration for their perspective and their conditioned reaction while being true to your self, with respect.