Difficult Conversation

Author name
Jo Supernaw, DUWell
Thumbnail Could you spend 1 minute looking directly into a friend's eyes without speaking.
Students attempt the effort at the Wellness Wednesday tent by DUWell.

Day in and day out, we rely heavily on communication for making connections and reaching goals, but often we encounter struggle, instances of miscommunication, particularly during difficult conversations. Miscommunication happens for many reasons: 

  • Technology interferes with ability to show true emotion
  • Intent to be heard over listening
  • Intent to fix the discomfort/problem
  • Become defensive 
  • Keeping peace at your own expense through agreement or avoidance

...and the list goes on. We all recognize that difficult conversations are a part of living life, but even so that doesn't make them any easier to have. DUWELL asked students what they do in difficult conversations that has helped.  Here are some things they said:

  • Step up, step back and leave space
  • Keep an open mind
  • Listen instead of trying to exclusively relate
  • Be present
  • Be patient
  • Be respectfully curious
Thumbnail Students share their trepidations about having difficult conversations,
and their solutions for overcoming those obstacles.

While interacting with students around the idea of difficult conversations, we learned that this is an area of anxiety for many and that few know where resources are available. Your first and best resources are your ears and your attention.  If you're hoping for support from those with more experience, student leaders can be a great connection as well as staff in various offices. When you know a difficult conversation is upon you, or you want to debrief after having one, find someone you trust and feel you can communicate with openly to talk it out.