Archive for March, 2014

How Does Stress Affect You in a Difficult Conversation?

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014


In business and in our personal lives, we often have to engage in difficult conversations. These conversations can occur with those who we are familiar with, such as a colleague or friend. They may also be had with someone who we don’t know as well, like a customer. A constant that underlies any difficult conversation is that a sense of stress will likely be felt.

The impact of stress on a difficult conversation is that the ability to get your point across, or to focus on resolving the matter at hand, may become complicated. Stress can impede the effectiveness of an important difficult conversation in the following ways:

• Nerves can take away your bargaining power: When you are engaged in an important conversation, the inability to manage stress can cause you to become vulnerable. Even though stress affects everyone differently, if uncontrolled, stress can be conveyed through erratic body language. This may reduce your ability to be in control during the conversation.

• Stress can cause you to be more emotional than you intended: It is important to try to be conscious of and to manage our emotions when in a difficult conversation. If you are unable to manager your stress, there is a greater likelihood that you will lose sight of your ability to control your emotions. This may lead to becoming overly sensitive, losing focus and verbal clashes.

• Delaying the conversation allows the problem to worsen: If you are stressed about having a difficult conversation, you may hesitate to raise the issue. This may cause for a delay in having the conversation and for the problem to continue to fester.

• Inability to express yourself fully: If you feel stressed, you may not be able to communicate as effectively. This can result in you speaking with out clarity, purpose and may cause you to forget to raise important points.

It is natural to feel stress and nervousness about difficult conversations. If your stress is interfering with your ability to resolve issues and to communicate effectively, then training and practice can be of assistance. At Stitt Feld Handy Group, we offer a wide range of conflict resolution, difficult conversation and negotiation courses for individuals and businesses. Our instructors can teach you how to keep your stress in check, no matter how difficult the conversation.