Ep #15: Elegant Approaches to Difficult Conversations

The Joyful Practice for Women Lawyers with Paula Price | Elegant Approaches to Difficult Conversations

Today’s topic is one that comes up continually in the coaching discussions that I have with clients. We all have some experience with difficult conversations. Whether it’s in your practice or your personal life, they’re pretty much unavoidable, and they range from slightly uncomfortable all the way up to absolutely terrifying.


Well, in this episode, I’m giving you some elegant approaches to conversations that you might find awkward or difficult, so you can negotiate these situations with confidence and ease and create outcomes that you actually want when it comes to difficult conversations. And some of them may sound a little counterintuitive, but I invite you to stay with me and try these for yourself.


Join me on the podcast this week to discover four elegant approaches to those unavoidable, difficult conversations that come up both at work and in our personal lives. I’m sharing why our default for dealing with tricky conversations might just be exacerbating the problem, and how to implement the approaches I’m giving you today.


If you enjoyed today’s show and don’t want to miss an episode, be sure to subscribe and follow the show. And if you haven’t already, please leave a rating and review! Your feedback will help me create a podcast that’s tailored to your needs and goes straight to the heart of what matters to you. Click here to learn how to subscribe, rate, and review.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:
  • The difficult types of conversations that come up for my clients, both in their professional and their personal capacities.
  • Why the ways you might currently be trying to solve the problem of difficult conversations could be leading to more suffering.
  • How self-doubt creeps into our mindset around some of these difficult conversations.
  • What is going on internally that makes these conversations generally more difficult than they need to be.
  • 4 elegant approaches for tackling these difficult conversations and how to implement them.
Listen to the Full Episode:

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Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Joyful Practice for Women Lawyers Podcast episode number 15.

Welcome to The Joyful Practice for Women Lawyers Podcast. I’m your host Paula Price, lawyer turned certified executive coach. This podcast was created to empower women lawyers just like you to create a life and practice you love. Join me every week for a break from the hustle so we can focus on you, what you truly want, and how you can create it.

If you’re over the overwhelm, done with putting out fires, and ready to create a life and practice that brings you more joy, you’re in the right place. Ready for today’s episode? Let’s dive in.

Hello, my friends, and welcome back to the podcast. For those of you who are joining for the first time, welcome. I’m excited to have you here today. My name is Paula Price. I’m a lawyer turned certified executive coach, and the host of this podcast. Today’s episode is all about difficult conversations. I’m excited to bring this topic to you because it’s something that comes up often in my coaching conversations that I have with clients.  The purpose of this episode is to offer you some elegant approaches to conversations that you might otherwise find awkward or difficult for whatever reason.

So today we’re going to identify situations where difficult conversations might come up in your practice and in your personal life. We’re going to identify those that may cause you to feel fear or dread or the anticipation of an awkward conversation. Maybe a situation where you might be concerned about disappointing somebody else, or maybe it’s a conversation where you feel like somebody’s going to be outright aggressive towards you. We’ll go into more detail about what those conversations might look like.

Then we’re going to talk about elegant approaches to having those conversations so that you can approach those conversations from a position of confidence and ease so that you can create those outcomes that you want. The reason that this is a problem in your practice and your personal potential is that there are these conversations that you may dread, you may put them off, or avoid having them all together because you anticipate that they’re going to be difficult.

Examples of those conversations—I would encourage you to think about what this might look like for you. Some examples that have come up with clients that I’ve worked with are, for example, conversations with opposing counsel that you anticipate are going to be aggressive or unpleasant. Where they’re going to go out of their way to make you feel uncomfortable. It may be a conversation that you need to have with somebody that you report to. Maybe it’s a difficult boss, maybe it’s another lawyer in your firm or organization. Maybe it’s a client. Maybe it’s a family member.

Maybe it’s somebody who is close to you and typically when you have conversations with that person, they make you feel a certain way. Maybe you feel like it doesn’t matter what you do in those conversations. That no matter what, they’re going to find fault with some element of what you’ve chosen to do, how you’re doing it. Maybe they’re critical of your approach. I think we all have individuals in our lives who we feel this way around when we go into difficult conversations with them. So that might be another situation where it comes up.

It may be that you’re having a conversation with your support staff or a junior lawyer where you’re trying to explain to them something that maybe they did wrong. Maybe it’s that you want them to do things a different way. Maybe there’s a level of accountability that you want to create that isn’t there. That might be an awkward conversation for you because you feel uncomfortable how you might approach it, how you might come across in that conversation. You don’t want to come across as overbearing, but you also need them to do things in a way that they haven’t been doing it. You need them to perform better.

It may be that you’re having a conversation where you need to talk about something that might be personal but work related where you feel uncomfortable. This has come up in discussions that I’ve had with clients and with colleagues about declaring, for example, if you’re pregnant and you’re going to be needing mat leave or maybe a special accommodation because there’s something going on with your pregnancy.

I’ve had this conversation with a lawyer who was pregnant and applying for a new job, and how to handle that in the conversation that she was having with the potential employer. Do you disclose it, or do you not disclose it? So this can come up and create what might be a difficult conversation for you to be having.

Another place where this comes up often is in the context of networking. Clients who are in the process of looking to expand their network whether it’s because they’re looking for a new job or because they’re being intentional about building up the professional set of relationships. They might feel and you might feel a bit awkward about what to say in that conversation. You may not want to come across as reaching for something or using that person for getting a job or gaining experience.

So that might be a conversation that you feel awkward about having because of the way that you might make that person feel. You do not want to make that person feel that particular way.

Finally another example where this comes up is in setting boundaries. Maybe you need to renegotiate the boundaries that you currently have in your employment situation. This comes up very often for women lawyers, for example, who are returning to work after a mat leave. It may be that your expectations in terms of what you’re required to produce in the office is no longer compatible with the obligations and commitments that you have outside of the office. This comes up quite frequently. It may not.

It may be that you need to do that negotiation not on the office front but on the home front. Maybe you need to enlist more support for things that you’re doing at home.

So these may be conversations where you anticipate some level of difficulty. Usually it stems from a feeling of discomfort that you have or that you feel like somebody else is going to have in relation to that conversation.

Again as we go through today’s podcast episode, I really do encourage you to think about what this looks like for you. Because each of us, we’re not immune to difficult conversations. They come up. Really what this episode is all about is to equip you with some tools so that when you have those difficult conversations or when you see them coming, you’re better able to manage them and to manage them in a way that feels more elegant to you.

Now the reason that this is a problem, the reason that this problem exists is because we often don’t feel very confident going into those conversations. There are a few reasons why we may not feel that way. One is self-doubt.

If you’re going into a conversation, for example, where you’re needing to assert a boundary or maybe you’re trying to ask somebody to do something for you, you may have a certain level of self-doubt that comes along with that conversation. It may be something that goes quite deep. You may be questioning the amount of value that you’re bringing to the table. If you’re looking to renegotiate a boundary at work, for example. You might question whether or not your workplace will still see value in your contribution if you’re not able to do it in the way that they’re used to having you contribute up until this point.

It may be that you question your ability to think on your feet. Maybe in a conversation with opposing counsel, for example, or a difficult personality in the workplace, it may be that you freeze up in those conversations. You wonder whether or not you’re going to be able to really execute the way that you want to. It may be that you have assumptions about what other people know or do not know. So it could be that you just don’t feel like you’re adequately prepared, that you don’t have enough knowledge to have that conversation.

Another reason why this problem exists is tied up in people pleasing. This is actually really powerful when you think about how your approach to a conversation might be governed really by your desire to please that person. So you may not want to upset that other person because of what you want to say to them. That really comes up maybe if you’re trying to have a difficult conversation with somebody who reports to you. You don’t want to hurt their feelings, for example. Or if it’s somebody that you’re reporting to, you might not want to make them angry with you.

So ways that you might be trying to solve these problems are to avoid the conversation altogether. Simply suffer in silence. So it may be that there’s something that’s going on at work. You want to talk to your boss about it. When it comes down to actually having that conversation, it just feels like it would be too awkward, too difficult. So you avoid it all together.

Maybe it’s an assistant who is working for you who just hasn’t been performing adequately. Rather than deal with that head on, you decide to avoid the conversation. You might talk to your coworkers about it. You might talk to your spouse about it, but you aren’t actually taking any active steps in relation to that particular person.

It may be that you put off having the conversation so that you still do have the conversation, but you have it at a stage that is much later than you could be having that conversation. So, for example, maybe there’s a problem. You see it initially in its early forms. That would be an opportunity where you could deal with the problem, and it wouldn’t be such a big deal. But because you don’t want to have that conversation, you decide to put it off. By the time you actually deal with the problem and have the conversation with the person, that challenge has really escalated into something that becomes a lot more awkward.

So you can imagine that conversation with somebody who is reporting to you, for example. Where something that they did once was maybe a small thing that you could have addressed initially with a fairly light conversation. Maybe it happens more frequently, and then it becomes more difficult to have that conversation.

It’s a little bit like when you meet somebody, and you forget their name. Initially if you ask them, then it’s no problem. You can just ask them their name. They tell you. Then you’re off to the races. You can live out that relationship knowing that person’s name. Versus you know somebody but you forget their name. You leave that conversation, and you’re always kind of kicking yourself wondering, “Oh what is that person’s name?” That conversation just becomes increasingly awkward the more that you put it off.

So it may be that you’re still having the conversations, but you’re having them later. It may also be that you’re having the conversations, but you’re really not going into them with a strategy. You find that you’re muddling your way through those conversations. They are awkward to have. You’re not really getting the results that you want to be getting. So maybe you’re not making your points very clearly. You’re not getting the outcomes that you were seeking.

After you have the conversation then maybe you go back to your office, or you find yourself driving in your car and you start ruminating over that conversation and thinking about all the places where you said something that you regret. That it didn’t quite come out the way that you wanted it to. Maybe there was something that the other person said that you keep coming back to and wondering did I do that the right way? How could I have done this differently?

So these are all things that could happen when you don’t have a clear plan in place when it comes to having these difficult conversations. So hopefully what I share with you today will help you go into these conversations with more confidence and to get better results.

Now the reason that some of these strategies that you may have been trying don’t ultimately work is because you’re not getting the results that you want. The problems may fester if they’re not adequately dealt with. In some cases when you aren’t actually having the conversations, if you avoid them all together or you have conversations that aren’t truly effective then you may find that you are no longer able to deal with a situation the way that you would really like to.

An example where I’ve seen this come up is in anger management, for example. Where something keeps happening and instead of dealing with that problem, you kind of avoid it. You end up kind of having a conversation with somebody where you show up in a way that you don’t want to show up. You may say something that you later come to regret. So that is something that I’ve seen happen with clients.

Ultimately because you haven’t solved for the underlying problem, which is the discomfort that you’re going to feel in anticipation of the conversation. So if we are able to find a way to manage that discomfort, that feeling that you have in anticipation of the conversation, then you will be so much freer and so much better able to go into those conversations from a place of confidence where you’re going to get the results that you really want.

So, again, going back to why these strategies don’t really work. Avoiding it, delaying it, why that’s not working. And why you ultimately do need to have a strategy to deal with these conversations is that these conversations are going to come up in your professional work, in your personal life. So it’s really key that you find a way to manage those conversations and to manage the discomfort.

If you do feel discomfort around these conversations, I definitely don’t want you to be beating yourself up over that or feeling like there’s something wrong with you or that you’re the only one. I can assure you that many, many, many others, myself included, have these types of conversations that are kind of on the horizon. We know we need to have those conversations. We try to avoid them because it just isn’t comfortable. So hopefully today we’re going to help you to come up with some strategies to have better conversations or more comfortable conversations.

So what I’m going to offer to you are four elegant approaches to dealing with difficult conversations. I’m so excited to share those with you today. So I’m just going to go through those now starting with the first suggestion, the first approach.

Before I get into that, I just wanted to introduce a concept here, which is that this approach to going into these conversations may be counterintuitive. When I was practicing as a lawyer and typically when I’ve gone into conversations that I know are going to be difficult or complicated, I’ve always started out by creating an agenda for myself. I imagine that a lot of you are also creating an agenda. Sort of a list of points that you want to make, an outcome that you want to create. That is one of the steps that I recommend, and I’ll get to that in a moment.

The counterintuitive part here is that instead of starting with the how in terms of how you’re going to do something, I would invite you to think about the who. The who you want to be in the context of the discussion.

So the first step we’re going to talk about is identify who you want to show up as in the conversation. So in your mind’s eye, you might think about the conversation that you want to have. Maybe it’s the conversation with opposing counsel. It’s somebody that you know typically goes into conversation with a bit of a bullying attitude.

Maybe it’s a difficult conversation with somebody that you work with who you anticipate might say things that will make you feel a little bit like you’re being nitpicked or that they’re finding fault with the way that you’ve approached something. Maybe it’s a conversation where you’re going to have to play an assertive role with somebody who reports to you, and you are traditionally uncomfortable with that.

So what I would invite you to do here is to really imagine the version of you who shows up to that conversation and does that in the way that is most in alignment with what you want to create. If you are a regular listener to this podcast, you may have tuned in last week to episode 14 where I talked about creating a personal brand. For that purpose, I asked you to think about what some of the characteristics are that you want to embody. So if you haven’t listened to that podcast episode, I would invite you to go back to that and really think about your branding at a deep level.

For this particular exercise, for this conversation, I’d like you to think about how you want to show up. Maybe how you want to show up is confident. If you are going to be speaking to somebody who reports to you, maybe you want to show up as confident, authoritative, but fair. You don’t want to be this overbearing person who is nitpicking. You want to show up being fair.

If it is a conversation where you’re going to be dealing with a difficult personality, maybe you want to show up as calm and confident and self-assured. If it’s a networking conversation, maybe you want to be showing up as authentic and interested and curious about the other person.

If it’s a conversation with a client, maybe you want to focus on showing up in service of that person. Maybe they have a concern, a problem that they’re having. You are anticipating a conversation where they’re going to be presenting with challenges that they’re having. Maybe it’s something that they’re not happy about in the way that their file is unfolding. So you want to show up in service for that person.

So the first part of the exercise isn’t what you’re going to do. It’s not what you’re going to say. It’s thinking about who you are going to show up as in this conversation. There’s a wonderful expression my husband shared with me. It goes something along the lines of when you have an interaction with somebody, they aren’t going to remember exactly what it is that you said to them, but they will remember how it is that you made them feel.

So here I would invite you to think about how it is that you want that other person to feel in the interaction that they’re going to have with you, and to be specific about this ahead of time. That’s step one.

So moving on to step two. Now that you’ve identified who you want to show up as, I would invite you to think about how you’re going to manage your thinking so that you can show up as that person. Now when you think about the conversation that you’re going to have, maybe you’re asking for a raise. Maybe you’re going to set a boundary. Maybe you are going to ask for different behavior if it’s somebody who is reporting to you.

Whatever that difficult conversation is, and you think about okay well I want to show up in this certain way, chances are your mind or brain is going to offer up a number of thoughts that are going to tell you why that is not possible. These are maybe thoughts of self-doubt if you’re wanting to show up as confident in a conversation with somebody who you know is going to challenge you. Somebody may start nitpicking at you. You think, “Well, they’re right. I don’t feel confident with the position that I’m taking.”

Whatever it is that is offered to you, maybe it’s a conversation with somebody who reports to you. The limiting thought or the thought of self-doubt is, “I’m not a leader. I don’t know how to manage other people. I’ve never done this before. I’m not very good at this. I don’t want to show up as bossy.” Whatever those thoughts are, I would like you to harvest them and collect them.

It may be that you have thoughts about other people that are untested and very likely not true. I’ll get to that in a moment. Maybe you think I’m going to ask for a boundary, and they’re going to say no. They’re going to think this is too much. They’re going to think that I’m being selfish, greedy, lazy. You’re having some thought about what somebody else is going to think, say, or do in relation to something that you say to them.

So when you start seeing what these thoughts are, I’d like you to write these down or at least really notice what they are. Because that is a very powerful source of information for you. Some people talk about them being the automatic negative thoughts that pop up into your mind. If you have them, no worries. It means that you’re human. We all have thoughts like that.

I’ve spoken before on the podcast about Byron Katie, and I really love the work that she does. Particularly because a lot of the work that she does is inviting you to take a closer look at what you’re thinking, and then to question whether or not those thoughts are true.

Another term that you might use to label these thoughts is deceptive brain messages. Currently I’m listening to an audio book. It’s playing in my car. So every time I hope into the car, I get a lovely dose of reality or a wonderful lesson in reality versus thoughts. The book that I’m currently listening to is called You Are Not Your Brain. It’s written by Jeffery Schwartz and Rebecca Gladding. They’re both doctors who talk about the distinction between the thoughts that your brain will offer up to you and reality. How in our day to day life, our brains are constantly offering up these negative thoughts, these limiting thoughts. That we can actually question those thoughts and question the truth of those thoughts.

So when you set yourself up for this conversation, when you decide how you want to show up and your brain starts offering all these reasons, all these ideas about why that’s not actually going to happen. Why you’re not able to have that conversation. How somebody else is going to judge you. Whatever that happens to be, you get to create a record of that. These are such powerful things for you to then work on.

When you start doing this work, when you start actually analyzing your thoughts, it is like a ball of yarn and pulling at a string in that ball of yarn. So you can start to unravel these thoughts. That, my friend, is where this work becomes extremely powerful.

So think about what those are for you. Because chances are, the thoughts that you have about yourself, the thoughts you have about other people, those thoughts don’t just come up in relation with one difficult conversation. They likely come up in relation to lots of difficult conversations. So let’s start paying attention to what those thoughts are for you.

So in terms of working on your thoughts, that first piece then is to identify what those thoughts are that are holding you back. Then I’m going to invite you to think about what thoughts you could have about yourself, about your situation that are more empowering. Here I would adopt you to take a growth mindset approach. We spoke about that also in early podcast episodes. Carol Dweck is really the scholar and practitioner who coined the term growth mindset. Here rather than looking at yourself as either fixed or not fixed, I would invite you to look at yourself as a work in progress who is learning a skill.

So, for example, if your thought might be you are not able to have a conversation where you show up as an authority figure. You’re not able to show up with confidence. You might take the growth mindset approach and say, “I am learning how to show up with confidence. I am learning how to have a difficult conversation with somebody who is challenging my authority, challenging what I know. I am learning how to have a networking conversation where I show up as authentic and in service. If it’s a conversation with a difficult client, I’m learning how to better manage conversations with clients where they’re having a particular challenge.”

So using language like that. I’m learning how to, or maybe there’s this idea of all or nothing thinking sometimes. Maybe you tell yourself, “I always mess up when I have a conversation with so and so.” So maybe you change that thought to something like, “I sometimes feel like I mess up when I have a conversation with so and so.” Another way that you might reframe one of these types of thoughts is just say to yourself “I keep thinking that.” So what you’re doing is you’re creating a little bit of space between you and that thought and identifying it as a thought.

So I’d invite you to think about how it is that you can reframe a particular thought. How you can maybe soften it or change it so that what you’re coming up with is a thought that is more empowering and one that doesn’t sort of deprive you or deflate you in the face of conversations that may be difficult. Really focus on the growth element of that and how you’re learning. How you can evolve and, with practice, become better at this.

When it comes to identifying more empowering thoughts, I would also invite you to go back to some of the characteristics that you identified in the first part of this exercise. So if you want to show up as an individual who is confident, who feels very much in charge, then what kind of thoughts do you need to have about yourself to show up like that? So maybe it’s, “I know that I’m able to have this conversation because I know that I’ve had difficult conversations before. Or I’m always improving in the conversations that I have.” So think about what a more empowering thought would be.

Number three is to then deal with the mechanics. So we’ve talked about the who and now we’re talking about the how. This is a process. I love working on this with clients. It is so impactful because often you may look at a conversation and think, “It’s a big deal. It’s too overwhelming. You just don’t want to have it.”

If you were to sit down and actually think about what that conversation would actually look like then it becomes so much less intimidating. You might identify number one, who you’re having the conversation with. When you’re going to have the conversation. What outcome you’re seeking from the conversation. What you need to do to prepare for that conversation. The points that you need to cover. It’s creating an agenda for that conversation.

Once you have done that, you may find that it’s really not as difficult or as bad as you thought it was going to be. The reason that I think it’s important to do it not first is because when you are creating that agenda, I want you to be thinking about how you’re going to set that conversation up from the position of the person that you want to be in that conversation.

So lastly, I want you to have that conversation. So you’ve done the work ahead of time in terms of who you want to show up as, how you need to be thinking about yourself and that conversation in order to show up that way. You have your plan in place. Go and have that conversation. When you’re done having that conversation, then it’s onto the next step which is to debrief.

This is something that I think we don’t always do intentionally, and it is such a great opportunity. So what I would invite you to do here is to think about the conversation and identify what it is that you did well. How did you show up in alignment with the person that you wanted to show up as in that conversation? Where in that conversation did you not show up as a person you wanted to show up as?

I mean maybe you wanted to show up as confident, and there was a part of the conversation where you really retracted. Where all of a sudden you were caught off guard. You didn’t respond the way that you wanted to. What happened there? Really take some time to think about that.

When you are done with that exercise, I would invite you to let it go. This, I think, is really key because I know for myself, and I know for others that a conversation that doesn’t go exactly how you want becomes fodder for rumination and perseverating. You may play back that conversation time and time again wishing you had said something differently or beating yourself up because you didn’t say it exactly the way that you should have said it. I have certainly had these conversations. I know others have as well.

So what I’m inviting you to do is to go through the exercise, go through the helpful exercise of reviewing what went well, reviewing what you would do differently next time. You may require follow up steps from here. That is entirely possible. You may need to have a follow up discussion or send a follow up email. If that’s called for then absolutely do it. Once you’ve done that, I’d invite you to let it go. That is easier said than done, but if you need permission to let it go, I’m giving you that permission. I’m offering that as a suggestion to allow you to move on.

So I wanted to pause here to mention that I wrote a blog post in a wonderful blog. It’s called Dear Lil. There will be a link to it in the show notes that are attached to this podcast on the webpage. So I would invite you to check out the blog generally because it’s full of wonderful Q&A style blog entries where various leaders and lawyers and coaches, like myself, offer insights and suggestions to lawyers who are starting out, who are well into practice. It’s designed for women lawyers. It’s called the Dear Lil blog. Yes, I will definitely post a link to it.

I wrote a blog post entry earlier this year about how to deal with difficult opposing counsel, that being a question that comes up in my practice. So you’ll see that I’ve offered a number of suggestions there. In that blog post, I used as an example of what might lead to a difficult conversation or receiving a difficult email is if opposing counsel—For example, if you’ve sent over an email where you are anticipating that they’re going to challenge the position that you’re taking.

So some of the thoughts that you might have in relation to that are that you might feel anxious about that particular email because of what you think they’re going to say about that particular email. So it may be that you’re worried that you made a mistake for example. You might be telling yourself that they’re going to destroy your argument. That it’s never going to hold up. That you must have missed something. I mean there’s a whole conversation that can go on inside your mind about things that may or may not happen.

Part of that exercise is to think about how you would need to feel to get the outcome that you desire. So let’s say the example so that it’s an email that’s come in or it’s a conversation that you’re anticipating having where they’re going to challenge a position that you have. How do you want to feel in that situation? Maybe you want to feel confident. You want to feel calm. You want to feel powerful. So what are some of the thoughts that you can have about yourself so that you feel that way?

Here’s some thoughts that I’m going to offer up, and maybe these would be helpful to you in relation to an example that you have for yourself. I can handle whatever is in that email. I can handle whatever conversation comes up. Nothing has gone wrong. It is opposing counsel’s job to challenge my position. I’m the perfect person to deal with this. I have everything that I need. This is an opportunity for me to practice being calm in the face of a challenge. This is exactly what I need to grow right now. So these are some examples of thoughts that you can have in relation to a conversation that you anticipate being challenging.

Now, I’ve offered some suggestions on how you can approach these challenging conversations. The reason that this approach is going to work in focusing on who you want to be and then focusing on how you want to show up, what outcome you want for that conversation is that you are not looking to control how other people are approaching the conversation. You are taking full ownership and control over your own conduct in that conversation. This is really empowering.

You are deciding in anticipation of that conversation ahead of time before you’ve even set foot in the room or picked up the phone how you want to show up. You’ve not given yourself an expectation that you get to live into. You are so much more intentional about who you’re being, and that is, again, very empowering.

The reason that this is going to work for you is that you’re now learning how to identify and unpack the thoughts that show up and that might hold you back from being and conducting yourself in the way that you want in those difficult conversations. So as you start to unravel those thoughts, as you start to expose them for what they are, which is that they’re just thoughts. If you’re having a thought that somebody is going to see right through you, for example, or that they’re not going to give you the thing that you’re asking for. They’re going to think a certain thing about you.

Once you start to really challenge those thoughts, then you’ll start to see that they’re not true thoughts. They are simply thoughts that have been offered to you by your brain. There’s nothing wrong with that process happening. You have more control than you think. The thoughts that show up in your mind aren’t necessarily true. As you develop a practice of being really able to question them, to run them through a more robust analysis. Once you’ve done that, they’ll stop undermining your confidence. You’ll be able to select thoughts that are much more empowering. So that will start to happen for you as well.

As you practice this, as you challenge your thoughts, as you show up in the way that you want to, you’ll develop more confidence. This will become more of a default practice for you. When you see these difficult conversations on the horizon, you now feel confident because you’ve got a strategy in place that you can use to deal with these conversations. As you continue to deal with them, you’ll become better at them, and your confidence will grow.

The skills that you need to have these conversations, to use this new approach are really twofold. Number one, you need to commit the time. So sitting down in anticipation of these conversations and running through this exercise. You’ll need to do that. Second, you’ll just need to believe in yourself. You’ll need to believe that you can execute in alignment with the plan that you set for yourself and that you can do this. I promise you that if you keep to this, if you practice, that you will see the results that you want.

The results that you’ll create, you’ll become a person who no longer dreads these difficult conversations. I can’t say that you’ll love having these difficult conversations. There will be conversations that will be awkward or that are potentially awkward. You will have conversations with individuals who are hard to get along with, who do cause you to question things about yourself. You’ll now have a system for dealing with that.

Hopefully over time you’ll start to see that you have a lot more control over these situations. That the conversations that you have with others where maybe they’re acting in a way that you don’t like or that doesn’t sit well with you. You’ll start to see that that is really them, and that you get to control you. They get to control themselves. You’ll feel better equipped to have those potentially difficult or awkward or challenging conversations.  As you do that, again, you’ll feel more confident. You’ll see the facts more clearly. You’ll find that these are opportunities that you can learn from. You may even start to look forward to these difficult conversations.

And my son is back. I’m just finishing the recording sweetie. He now has a DVD for tomorrow’s road trip, which is wonderful. For any of you who are listening who are in the middle of summer vacation, as I am, you’ll know what I mean. Back to the…Love the cameos.

As I was saying. The results that you’ll create is you’ll learn to see these difficult conversations as an opportunity for you to practice these skills and to grow. So I hope that this is all helpful to you. Finally just as a review. I’ll summarize the strategies that we just talked about.

Number one is to identify who you want to show up as in these difficult conversations. Number two is to really manage your thinking around it. So identify the thoughts that are holding you back. Find new, more empowering thoughts that you can be thinking. The third is planning the how. So setting the agenda, deciding on the outcomes, figuring out what you need to do to prepare for those conversations. Then you go and have those conversations. Number four is to debrief with yourself. To really look at that conversation, evaluate what went well, what you would do differently next time.

So that’s what I have for you today. Thank you again for joining me. It’s been such a pleasure to have you here. For those of you who are listening as this podcast comes out, we are wrapping up our summer vacation. I just wanted to send a shoutout to all of you. I hope you have a wonderful last few weeks of summer.

For all of you fellow moms out there, I hope you’ve been having wonderful summers and enjoying the time away. For some of you, the return to school for the children may mean a return to a little bit more predictably in your schedules. That, I can say, is something that I am looking forward to. Not so much that I don’t want to spend as much time with the children but that my routines will be a lot more predictable.

Anyhow, I will be taking on new clients in the fall. So if you’re looking to have some support in some area of your practice whether it’s you’re looking to find a new job, or you want to take that next challenge in your existing position or if you’ve just reached a point where you’re feeling a bit stuck, and you want to revamp. I would encourage you to reach out to me. All my information is on my website. I would love to hear from you. Send me an email, send me a note on LinkedIn. I’m always interested in hearing from you. I would love to hear if you’ve had a chance to implement some of these strategies, and what effect that had for you.

That’s all I have for you today. So thank you so much everybody. Enjoy the rest of your summer. I really look forward to connecting with you again next week. Bye for now.

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Thank you for listening to this episode of The Joyful Practice for Women Lawyers podcast. If you want more information, visit www.thejoyfulpractice.com. See you next week.


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