• Yvette E. McDonald, LCSW

10 Strategies to Navigate Uncomfortable Conversations

Updated: Nov 14, 2018

Ever find yourself having to have an uncomfortable conversation and not knowing how to navigate through it, other than running in the other direction?


Perhaps, you are a parent of a child that reacts with behavioral problems or emotional outbursts and he/she will do everything and anything to get out of the conversation. Even if that means picking up some unwanted consequences.


Having uncomfortable conversations are no fun! They can be draining and if not navigated intentionally and systematically can be relationship killers and emotional and mental vampires. There is an easier way to have these uncomfortable conversations that builds intimacy within the relationship, clarifies the topic or situation, problem solves the issue or stops something from getting bigger than it was ever intended to be.


Want to make those conversations easier. Here are 10 strategies to navigate uncomfortable conversations.


  1. SPEAK IN A PRIVATE SETTING. Meet in a private room or spot where no one else can overhear. And if someone else brings up the conversation first in a public setting, suggest holding the conversation in a place you are more comfortable.

  2. PUT EMOTION INTO MOTION. Walking, eating and fidgeting will allow you to work out the stress that's going on in your body. Just choose things that won't throw your focus.

  3. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR DISCOMFORT. Label the emotion and acknowledge your anxiety. Offer a quick sentence that explains what the other person already senses, such as, "This is hard for me to talk about."

  4. SET A TIMER. Put on a timer to discuss the uncomfortable subject matter before starting, in order to ease the anxiety of a forever conversation.

  5. WHOLE BODY LISTENING. Give yourself a chance to process what the other person is saying by listening with your heart and head. Check for understanding by repeating back what you hear. Slow and steady wins the race.

  6. KEEP A GROWTH MINDSET. Having a growth mindset means understanding that you can develop your own strengths and weaknesses through hard work, dedication, and grit. You don't have to be perfect, as you are in a state of becoming!

  7. PAUSE. Ask for short breaks within the conversation when you feel your emotions getting big. Practice some deep breathing exercises, positive self talk or prayer. Whatever works for you, be creative!

  8. HAVE A SAFE WORD. Be aware of your anxiety and how it is climbing the anxiety scale in order that you can use your safe word before the conversation starts to go downhill. Safe words ex. "I'm at a 5". Reschedule or pause the conversation. At times conversations can be a little difficult to process and that is okay.

  9. KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS. Knowing your triggers ahead of time helps you navigate through the conversation smoother, as you'll be able to plan ahead and build a strong coping and problem-solving tool box.

  10. UNDERSTAND & ACCEPT. Everyone is uniquely designed and understanding your limitations and capacity is one huge step in the right direction to getting stronger in conversations. Be the best version of you, you can be! Recognize you are in a state of becoming!


Difficult conversation don't have to be difficult as there are intentional and strategic ways to navigate them in order that you can become both comfortable and confident within them. Keep that growth mindset with it all! Seeing difficult conversations as just one of life's many obstacles that when looked at with a different perspective can be an opportunity of personal and relational growth allowing us to be a better version of self step by step.



10 Strategies to Navigate Uncomfortable Conversations

#intentionalandstrategicliving




Traveling Light Counseling is in the heart of Port Saint Lucie, FL and easily assessable from both Vero Beach and Martin County due to our close proximity to US1 and the Turnpike. I am committed to helping relationships be the best version they can be. Nothing excites me more that helping relationships level up and find fun and creative ways to connect, learn and grow. I offer relational support, education and help to individuals, couples, families and parents. Please do not hesitate to bring me onto your journey, I'd be honored. Please give me a call at 772-361-8448 for a free, 15-minute phone consultation.

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