Think of a conversation you're dreading. The first question to ask is, Is this talk necessary? Are you rehashing something that's been discussed before—or something that is unresolvable?
If it is a necessary conversation, can you identify what's making you anxious? Is it because you're afraid of letting the person down or of one of you getting angry or hurt?
Are you putting off this discussion because you're afraid you may hear something that you might not really want to hear?
What's your definition of confrontation? How could you choose to think of it in a different way? For example, could you think of it as an opportunity to solve a problem?
What is the problem that needs to be solved? And what's the best possible outcome?
6. Looking at the best outcome you've written down, can you work backward from that goal? What can you do or say that will help both of you get to that point?
Thinking of similar situations in the past, how did you handle them? How often did you feel the conversation went well? If it didn't, can you see now, with the benefit of perspective, where it went wrong?
Can you think of a few back-pocket phrases—things you can say to defuse the tension if the conversation gets rough? Something funny, maybe? Or a request for a reset button or time-out?
Write down what the other person did wrong. Now, can you rewrite it to convey what you want to say without blaming that person?
Once you've thought about what you find hard to say, take a moment to write down what you find hardest to hear. Why are these things difficult? How many of them are true?
Printed from Oprah.com on Monday, December 9, 2013