Why are difficult conversations so dang difficult?!

Those conversations. The ones that make us anxious, frustrated, worried. The ones we postpone and avoid. Whether it’s an ongoing disagreement with your partner, an employee who keeps making the same mistakes, a kid who persistently “forgets” to take out the trash, an aging parent, or your neighbor with the barking dog – whatever it is, there are some conversations …

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The dance of connection

A friend mentioned recently that she and her partner experience a lot of near misses in their interactions. As she put it, “communication zings by,” and it’s only later that she realizes what she heard maybe wasn’t exactly what was said – and vice versa. And this is a couple who’ve been happily together for over 20 years! We all know that different …

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Three steps for handling chronic complainers

The chronic complainer. We’ve all encountered them. They love describing all the things that are wrong in the world – and not just once. It’s the same story every time we encounter them. And they suck the energy out of the room! We quickly start avoiding them, whether by running to the bathroom when we see them coming, or choosing …

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When they don’t say “thank you”

You’re generous. They don’t say “thank you.” It’s a slap in the face. Why, you might think, did I even bother? And it’s hard to retain a sense of connection with your feelings of generosity, never mind your sense of connection with the other person.  How, you might think, can they be so rude and ungrateful? In the end, you have three …

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What’s in the space between?

In every relationship between two people, there are obviously two entities involved: the two people. What you may not realize is that there’s a third entity in the room. And leaving out that entity – especially when there’s disagreement or conflict happening – is a huge mistake. So what in the world am I talking about? The space between the …

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What you’re not taught (but should learn)

Why aren’t communication, negotiation, and conflict management skills taught in school? Starting in grade school. And in high school. And college. As a requirement, not an elective.* We leave school and wander off into the rest of our lives, mostly unskilled in the art of relationships, connection, negotiation, and real communication. The ability to have hard conversations is a keystone …

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Are ghosts and zombies real?

Are you a fan of horror movies and flesh-eating zombie shows? I’m not. Perhaps (and I say this slightly tongue-in-cheek) this is because I deal with so many real ghosts and zombies in my work … and, just like anyone else, in my personal life. Because ghosts and zombies are definitely real. They will haunt you, and they do eat your …

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It’s not my fault!

Most people don’t want to believe that they are the difficult person who’s causing a problem, or that they have any part in a miscommunication, disagreement, or conflict. That’s not just my opinion; it’s borne out by a recent survey conducted by Fierce, Inc. (founded by Fierce Conversations author Susan Scott) and Quantum Workplace. According to the report, only half of …

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The danger of “how to” scripts

There’s growing awareness that excellent communication is a make-or-break factor for success, whether for an individual leader developing their career, or an executive team running a large organization. But just how can a leader become more empathetic and more prepared to have these challenging, often difficult, yet essential conversations-that-matter? One could start with books; there are plenty out there, many …

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Are you okay?

Simple questions. The answers seem straightforward. But are they? It’s a matter of interpretation. And misinterpretation can lead to fractured relationships, undercut credibility, and delayed projects. The question: “Are you okay?” Pat: “No.” Devon: “Yeah.” What Pat really means: “I have a headache and I’m tired; I don’t feel well, and that’s not okay.” What Devon really means: “I have a headache and I’m …

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