25 Great Responses to Graciously Receive Gifts

pile of gifts

If you read my blog post earlier this week, 5 Things Never to Say When Receiving a Gift, you may have discovered you are not the best at accepting presents or expressing genuine gratitude. Maybe you struggle with finding the right words, or feel self-conscious. Or just don’t know the way to say it and express what you feel. No worries.

Now that you’re aware of how you come across, you can respond differently and be a gracious receiver.  People will love you for it, and you will enjoy gift exchanges much more yourself. Who knows, you might even find yourself the recipient of more gifts!

To begin, let’s go review those “Five Things Never to Say…” and offer better alternatives:

  1. Instead of “Can I open this later?” how about something more positive and engaging like, “Oh thanks! I’d love to open this now!Now your gift giver knows that you’re excited to be getting a gift and don’t’ want to wait to open it. What a great feeling they get, knowing you are excited! It’s a gift giver’s dream.
  2. Instead of “Do I have to open this now?”  Say “Can I open this now?  I’m just too excited to wait.” Think about it…if they hand you the gift now, it’s because they want you to open it now. Otherwise they would have waited. Generally, people hand you their gift when they want you to open it. Don’t disappoint. Let them enjoy the giving and witness your response.
  3. Instead of saying, “Thanks. I have one of these,” simply be gracious and receive it well saying, Thanks so much! This is a great gift.”
  4. If and only if, the gift is expensive and you have it already, your response will be a little more challenging to be honest. Consider saying something like, “Wow, I love this. I can’t believe how well you know my taste! I do have this item though. Do you think we can decide together on something to exchange it for?”
  5. Time after time I hear people (mostly women) lament, apologize, and fuss over the fact that they didn’t buy a gift as well. PLEASE, if this is you, eliminate this response from your repertoire. Take a breath and slip into the role of gracious receiver. Simply say, “Thank you so much for thinking of me! What a nice surprise!”

….and now twenty more choices to be a pleasant, gracious receiver this Holiday:

6.    “Thank you very much. This is something I’d never have splurged on.”

7.     “How did you know? …..I’ve been wanting a _________________.”

8.     “I love this. It’s so unique.”

9.     “What a great gift! Many thanks.”

10.   “I appreciate your kindness.”

11.   “That was very sweet!” (or kind, or generous or thoughtful)

12.   “What a fantastic gift! Thanks so much!”

13.   “I LOVE presents. Can I open this right now?”

14.   “This is really touching. Thank you.”

15.   “I’ve always wanted to have a _______________.”

16.   “I love handmade gifts. They have such meaning. Thank you.”

17.   “Thank you for thinking of me.”

18.   “Wow! You really know my taste. I love this.”

19.   “This is a perfect gift choice for me.  Thank you!”

20.   “I so appreciate your thoughtfulness.”

21.   “Thanks so very much. This is wonderful!”

22.   “I’m delighted. Thank you.”

23.   “Thank you so much. I will treasure this gift.”

24.   “How kind of you to buy me a gift.”

25.   “What a wonderful surprise! Thanks for thinking about me.”

It’s not too late to be a wonderful receiver of gifts, acts of service, or hospitality this Holiday season. Simply try these responses and allow yourself to be a bit more open.

Regardless of the way you say it this Holiday and whether you find the right words, don’t be a Grinch!  Enjoy and let the gratitude in your heart come through to those who love you enough to purchase a gift they chose especially for you.


THANK YOU for following my blog! That is a great gift to me!

Happiest of Holidays!

 See you after the New Year with more of the way to say it.

5 Things Never to Say When Receiving A Gift

(Check out my next post this week for great responses to receive gifts graciously.)

You don’t have to be a child to LOVE receiving gifts. But, when it comes down to it, kids just naturally get it! They show excitement, excited child at Christmasenthusiasm, and happiness. Their faces light up. They exude emotion as they tear off wrapping and dive into their surprise.  With children, it’s not hard to tell if they’re delighted by a gift.

With adults—not so much. While some adults do resemble children when receiving a gift, the reactions of many adults leave much to be desired.  Here’s an example. I once struggled to find a great baby gift (not my forte) for a friend. When I gave her the present, she thanked me and promptly put it in her car. I never got to see if she liked it, was happy, or what. It simply disappeared.

My all-time favorite one though is this.  My husband and I once found a beautiful black sweater we loved so much, we not only bought one for a family member, but one for him as well. When the relative opened the gift, his wife critically blurted out, “Oh, black. I don’t know if we can get used to black on him!  Really? Of all the things to say, that was their best response?find your gift

Giving a gift requires time and effort. Even the smallest of gifts requires thought, shopping and money. In spite of this, we love to give presents.  And we love it because it makes us feel good.  The old adage, “It is better to give than to receive” hits the nail on the head.  We’re take pleasure in the act. We like the feeling of satisfaction that comes from bringing joy to others. For most of us to really feel that satisfaction, however, we have to know the gift was appreciated. We want to see and feel the receiver’s reaction.

Flat, indifferent responses take the joy out of giving. Don’t be an ingrate with responses like these in your gift-receiving moments:

“No-No” Responses:

  • “Can I open this later?” (meaning after you leave) – This response denies the giver all the joy of giving the gift. They don’t get to see your response and will definitely feel slighted hearing these words.
  • “Do I have to open this now?” – Seriously? Someone went to the trouble to think of, shop for and buy you a gift and you want to know if you HAVE TO open it now? This one is never a good response to generosity. It creates discomfort for everyone and most often the giver will respond politely with “No, you can wait,” but secretly inside they are disappointed.
  • “Oh, thanks, I just bought one (or got one) of these.” – Unless the gift is something you want and need two of, the “I just bought one” is unnecessary info that should be left out.
  • “Oh, my God… but I don’t have a gift for you!!”  This one is a common response among women, one that needs to be ditched. Giving a gift was the choice of the giver. If someone elected to purchase a present for you without specifically asking to exchange gifts, no apology is necessary.  They are doing what they wanted, expressing sentiment. Be a gracious receiver and let them know how surprised and pleased you are. I challenge you to say absolutely nothing about not having a gift for them.  Don’t take away from their generosity by apologizing and shifting the focus. Simply enjoy!
  • “Oh, you shouldn’t have!” – This is definitely an outdated saying. It’s from a time when people spoke more formally, less directly and more politely. How can the gift giver possibly respond but to explain and defend why they wanted to do this for you? Skip this response. 

So exactly what should you say? See our next post this week for great responses for gracious receiving and be sure to share these posts with people who want to be better receivers.

Now, tell me…what are your horror stories? What’s the worst thing ever said to you when you gave a present? I’d love to hear your experiences, too.

The-Way-to-Say-It Conversation

The Way to Say It is not just about finding the right words. The Way to Say It is a kind of conversation that steps into rather than shies away from difficult, challenging and uncomfortable topics. It is a mindset that says, “Let’s resolve this,” rather than “Let’s ignore it.”

It’s a belief that honest, direct conversation is more productive than beat-around-the-bush conversation. The Way to Say It is about continuing to improve our communication skills whether we are at home, at work, in a group or with one individual, young or old, self-employed or in the corporate world.talk

The Way to Say It is ALWAYS:

  • Honest and authentic
  • Direct and clear
  • Free of blame and attack
  • Without judgment
  • Intent on creating understanding and resolution
  • Free of sarcasm
  • Personally responsible
  • Able to say what needs to be said (not just what’s comfortable)
  • Willing to listen as well as speak
  • Calm and neutral
  • Free of manipulation
  • Brave and bold

I’m totally committed to this type of conversation whatever the topic. It’s an ongoing process…finding the right words, the right tone, the right approach to make all conversations bridges rather than dividers.

What topics do you find difficult in conversation? What communication challenge do you have questions about? I invite you to share, ask, speak, and follow me on this blog as we explore The Way to Say It  as a way of life.


The Way to Say It: 10 Reasons It Pays to Speak Up First

Someone's got to go first!

Don’t be a scaredy cat! Speak up.

As children we couldn’t wait to be first. First to raise our hands. Answer the teacher’s question. First to get in line. Somewhere along the line that all changed.

We began hesitating. Holding back. Suddenly we waited for someone else to go first.  We watched to see what THEY did, or what THEY said.

As adults, we avoid being the one to speak up first, especially when it means being open and vulnerable.  We think to ourselves…“Not me! Let someone else go first!”

But we miss out on so much by waiting! We stuff our true feelings. Awkwardness increases. What we want to say gets more and more difficult, the longer we wait. We get stuck in our heads.

I observed this pattern when I was 16 while vacationing with my family. In situation after situation, I noticed adults afraid to speak their minds and share their feelings, especially when they had to lead off, or break a long silence.  It struck me as particularly odd that even when it was a compliment or praise to share, most people STILL held back! No one wanted to go first!

I decided “not me.” I began taking the lead in honest, direct conversations.  I shared compliments with strangers. I asked probing questions. I shared my feelings openly. And I made some startling observations.  When I expressed my feelings, the benefits far outweighed the risks. Every time I paved the way, others followed my lead. They opened up to me, and fast!

People willingly dropped their guard, as long as they didn’t have to go to bat first. It made such an impression on me, I committed to GO FIRST.  It’s a choice I have stayed with.

children raising hands happy

Remember being like this?

We don’t have to hesitate.

We don’t have to wait for others to speak up.

We can express ourselves authentically.

Like the children we used to be, we can once again “go first.”  Here’s what we gain by being the initiator: 

  1. Awkwardness fades.  Everyone feels the same inside…anxious and awkward at the thought of these conversations.  Going first ends the discomfort. 
  2. Time is savedBreaking the ice ends the pattern of everyone waiting for SOMEONE else to lead. Someone really has to go first…why not you?
  3. Grace is givenWhat words you choose or how eloquent you are is less important than opening up the dialogue. No one worries cares if it was worded perfectly.    
  4. Respect grows. Speaking up earns you respect. You’ll be perceived as confident and brave.
  5. Trust builds.  Your honesty builds trust with others because you’re opening up.   
  6. Doors open. Others will be more responsive and open, following your lead. Be prepared!
  7. Speaking up gets easier. Over time it becomes natural, easy and comfortable to speak up.  
  8. Visibility expandsYou become the go-to person known for getting things started, for speaking the truth.   
  9. New behavior is modeled for others. Your example becomes a model for to follow.
  10. Connections develop. Starting conversations opens doors to develop connection and  understanding.

My choice to “go first” still serves me well.  I’ve gained the trust of others. People have shared their feelings more easily because they already knew mine. Going first has opened doors and hearts to me and made it well worth the sometimes risky business of leading off.   Occasionally I’ve taken some “shots” for opening up dialogues others wanted to avoid, but those experiences brought great lessons with them.

What about you? Do you go first?  Instead of pointing fingers at people in your life wondering why they aren’t open with you, ask yourself this:

“Am I making it easy for them to open up? Or do I just sit back and wait?”

Take an honest look at yourself today. Then give it a shot. Go first. I’m looking forward to hearing your experiences.

The Way to Say It Tips: Apologizing with Grace

A great apology takes more than these two words.

A great apology takes more than these two words.

Ok, let’s get real. Sometimes we all make some really lame apologies.  Sometimes we don’t mean the words we say but just spout them out to get things over with. On occasions we feel forced to apologize or do so in anger. And then there are the times we are incredibly sneaky, making masked apologies hoping the other person would get the hint. They were at fault, not us.

Other times we actually feel genuinely sorry but just can’t find the right words. We don’t know the way to say it. Whatever the scenario, it’s important to establish two things. First, that we truly feel remorse for our actions and second, that we can find the right words and tone to communicate that. Our intentions must be in the right place. A forced apology or a masked one will never create resolution.

Elements to Resolve the Conflict

Here’s what is needed to resolve the conflict, keep the peace and create a successful apology:  

  1. Sincere feelings of apology
  2. A willingness to admit our mistakes or contributions to the mess
  3. The ability to  seek clarity and resolution rather than blame
  4. An understanding (and acceptance) that the other person may need some time to meet us in a civil, calm discussion

Once we’re really in the head space described above, we’re ready to apologize.

Useful Expressions of Apology

Here are some of  The Way to Say It expressions of apology that will help you work through these situations:

  • “I’m sorry you feel that way. Here is what I intended.”
  • “My apologies. How can I help make this better for you?”
  • “I apologize for creating this situation. Let’s see what we can do together to resolve it.”
  • “I’m sorry for my part in this. Tell me what you need to move forward.”
  • “This did not turn out as I hoped. Let me share with you what I was hoping to accomplish. I’m sorry for my actions.”
  • “I’m so sorry. I had no idea this would be the result created by my actions. Here is what I had hoped would happen.”
  • “Although I think we both played a part in this mess, I’m very sorry for  _______. That was wrong of me and I hope you will forgive me.”

These phrases–or some that sound similar–will not fuel the fire of conflict. Instead each expression, if  delivered without tone, will diffuse the tension and conflict in the air. It will allow both parties to regroup and create resolution. The goal is to restore relationship and connection. That doesn’t mean in every situation both parties will be at peace and at ease immediately, but using wording like these will begin the process and create an atmosphere of cooperation.

Try on these phrases. Test them out in minor misunderstandings first. Use them face-to-face or on the phone. Be sure to tweak them to fit your conversational style.  And as always, share with me those expressions that helped you apologize with grace .



Danger: Difficult Conversations and Email Don’t Mix

Send Button for EmailsI LOVE email. I am a fast typist (thanks to long ago secretarial school.) I love to write. And I like immediacy. Email ticks all the boxes.


Many people hide behind email, rather than bravely having conversations they need to have. They become The Wizard of Oz hiding behind the curtain. Only difference is their curtain is email.

If the communication you need to deliver, makes you feel like running the other direction, email is not the way to handle it.

If the topic you need to talk about is emotionally charged, like a break up, or a performance issue at work, email is not the right choice.

If the subject matter is touchy, involves parties who are already upset and taking sides, email is not going to clear the air.

If you know (and I know you do) when your email is likely to cause hurt feelings, disappointment, possible misunderstandings and yes, drama, email is not the solution to minimize all of the above.

When we chicken out and use email to handle situations like this, we can’t really wonder why things go sideways. Why drama escalates. Why nothing is resolved. It’s obvious.

Too much is missing and/or open to interpretation with email in a tough conversation. And it’s what’s missing that creates the problems. Like tone of voice. Like the ability to stop and redirect the conversation. Or the ability to clarify issues that are being misinterpreted….immediately! Once the reaction is there, once the feelings are hurt, it’s much harder to backtrack and resolve.

With email the entire conversation is delivered like a one-sided monologue. The reader has no opportunity to ask for clarification, to interpret facial expressions and tone, to stop a communication that is headed down the wrong path.

When you speak, whether face to face or by phone, at each moment you have the chance to shift gears, explain, listen, redirect, and ask questions and often, salvage a conversation that was beginning to go south.

ALL of that is missing when you put your thoughts in an email. You quickly bang out the email, throw out your thoughts, often with little or no editing. Then before you can foresee possible issues, or just think ahead a moment, it’s’ too late. The email is gone.

How many times have we all wished there was a “recall” button on personal emails?

Instead of going down this path, a better solution is learning and committing to NOT using email for any conversation that is touchy, drama-filled, sensitive, emotional, potentially upsetting or hurtful, easily open to interpretation, or complicated.

What recent email of yours turned into an issue that could have been avoided?  Suppose instead of emailing, you had picked up the old-fashioned telephone instead? Imagine the different possible outcomes with an authentic conversation?

Remember, email is great but it’s not right for every situation. Tune into your intuition. If you have the slightest inkling it could get sticky, DON’T send your email. Have a conversation instead. THAT’S the way to say it!

For some specifics on when and when not to email, check out this article.

5 Great Responses to Inappropriate Questions

Being a lover of cats I couldn’t resist opening the post from Dan at Leadership Freak today. It was titled, The Pussy Cat Problem.  I couldn’t imagine the content, but Dan is known for his short and sweet, extremely powerful words of wisdom. Today was no exception. All ten points in the post were spot on in helping leaders be more approachable and connected, but I especially love this recommendation:

Learn how to handle inappropriate topics,” such as saying, “Thanks for bringing that up but I can’t deal with that in public.”

 As a leader, your “charges” will sometimes bring you inappropriate information, or ask totally awkward questions in a public setting.

They see you as the person in the know, the person with the solution. And that is not something you want to discourage. Your success is related to how accessible and connected you are with your team.

You WANT to know what’s on their minds. You WANT them to feel they can ask you anything or bring you information.  The wrong response, or worse yet, no response, to their question will simply shut them down.

Knowing some appropriate responses before a situation arises makes it easier to respond on the spot.

Knowing some appropriate responses before a situation arises makes it easier to respond on the spot.

The worst responses to an inappropriate question are these:

  1. No response at all. That leaves the person who spoke up confused. With no response they have no idea what to think and they will be sure to discuss your lack of response with their circles. Doesn’t add to your leadership presence.
  2. A flippant response. I hope I don’t really need to state that this is not the answer either. A flippant or sarcastic answer from a leader is heightened in intensity by the power and status of that leader. You can bet this person who stepped out on a limb and asked what was on their mind, will not do that again anytime soon.
  3. An on the spot response that is also inappropriate. If their question or info was truly inappropriate, than discussion of this topic in public only makes a bad situation worse.

A powerful confident leader can handle the inappropriate. It goes with the territory. As Dan’s response suggests, the ideal comment to a public conversation on a “behind-closed-doors-topic” hits these benchmarks:

  1. It’s free of tone, judgment or sarcasm
  2. It spares damage to the initiator’s pride
  3. It is neutral, direct and clear
  4. It confirms to the speaker they have been heard
  5. It lets them know their request will be addressed, but not here and not now

Having some ideas of the way to say it in advance help in being prepared. Here are some The Way to Say It Tips to use in these situations include:

  • “That’s a topic for an off-line conversation. Let’s set another time to talk about this.”
  •  “Now that is a most unusual request. Let me have my assistant meet with you on that.”
  • “Wow, I need to think about that one. Let me get back to you.”
  • “You know, I think we can do better speaking about that in a quieter environment.”

Generally, as long as the spokesperson has been heard and gotten a response that sets expectations, they are satisfied and refrain from continuing the conversation on the spot creating an even more awkward situation.

Your strength as a leader comes from being able to handle all types of challenges and situations. That should include tough conversations and inappropriate remarks.

The Way to Say It Tips: Replace “but” with “and”

Your meaning completely changes when you use "but" to connect your thoughts.

Your meaning completely changes when you use “but” to connect your thoughts.

Ever listen to how most of us speak? Day in and day out, we connect our thoughts with “but”. In fact, it’s so common we barely hear ourselves say it.  That is, unless we are on the receiving end. Then the word “but” seems to jump out at us.  See how these statements feel:

I love the design you created but I’d like to share some of my ideas with you.

You’ve done good work on the end of month statements lately, but I’d like your team report a day or two earlier.

I understand your feelings, but I’d like to tell you how I feel.

Now, check out the same statements using “and” instead of “but” to connect the thoughts:

I love the design you created AND I’d like to share some of my ideas with you.

You’ve done good work on the end of month statements lately, AND I’d like your team report a day or two earlier.

I understand your feelings, AND I’d like to tell you how I feel.

The difference is subtle, but not so subtle that we don’t get the message.  It  feels corrective. It brings up defensiveness. Use of the word “but” negates what was said before it.  And THAT is the what we react to. THAT is what makes us feel let down . We hear only the negative and throw out every positive word that preceded the “but.”

Connecting our thoughts with “but” is easy. It flows off our tongues without a thought. BUT, connecting thoughts with “and” gives a completely different meaning.  By substituting “and” instead, we convey positive thoughts and reduce the tendency for others to react with defensiveness or explanation.

If both of your statements are true and neither one is meant to contradict the other, then try “and.” Need proof?  For the next few days, tune in for the word “but.”  Hear it. Hear yourself say it.  Listen for it in conversation. Every time you hear it, mentally substitute “and” in its place. Then notice the difference. It’s a small shift in communications that makes a remarkable difference in meaning and interpretation.

Right Words to Start Tough Conversations

Getting started is not as hard as you think. Try these phrases.

Getting started is not as hard as you think. Try these phrases.

The most difficult thing about difficult conversations is the first step. Opening your mouth to get the right words out. Starting off on the right foot. Being the one to broach whatever subject it is that’s uncomfortable.

But have you ever noticed —-once you start, things immediately get easier? Tension breaks.

With the first step behind us, the dread dissipates.  Just like public speaking, or a first time surfing, or trying some new challenge, the majority of anxiety arises in THINKING about it, not in the actual doing of it! Once we make that first move, utter those first words, something shifts. Suddenly things start to settle.

We can use that fact and some well worded introductions to help us get over the hump of our first step in a challenging conversation.  First, check out last week’s blog post, Six Steps to Initiating Difficult Conversations.

For conversation starters, try wording like this:

 “I’m angry about what happened yesterday.  I want to share my feelings and hear your perspective so we can clear the air.”

 “I think I made a mess of things in our recent meeting and I’m sorry.  I’d like to talk about it with you and see if we can’t regroup and get back on track.”

 “I’m very uncomfortable with some comments you made about the department. I’m hoping you can help me see things in a different light. Let’s talk this through.”

 “Let me tell you how things appeared to me when you said you weren’t interested in working with the new employee. Then I’d like to hear what your thoughts and reservations are.”

 “It’s important to me that we retain our good working relationship, so I want to share my concerns about our work project. I’m not happy with the way you have communicated with me on this, and I think we can do better. Let me tell you my issues and then let’s talk about what is making it difficult from your end.”

 “For me, it’s unacceptable to repeatedly not get a response from your office when I leave a phone message. I value our business relationship and I want a better level of service so we can continue working together.”  


To Learn Their Point of View, Ask Curious Questions

After delivering your succinct, clear, direct message, turn the tables. Keep the conversation going and on track.  Ask curious questions to give your listener the opportunity to share their thinking, feelings and assumptions. The goal is to understand both sides of the issue, not just yours.

Some phrases that will help you accomplish this sound like this:

“Can you explain your thought process so I understand where you are coming from?

 “Can you help me understand how you see things here?

 “Can you tell me what you were trying to accomplish so I understand your thinking?”

 Once you’ve asked the question, LISTEN. Yup, stop talking. Don’t defend. Simply listen.  It’s critical to give that respect and listen if your true intent is understanding and resolution. When they are done, there is time to clarify any issues that arise.

If You Mess Up

Difficult conversations are like life. Rarely are things perfect. Stepping into challenging conversations is honest, brave and forthright, AND sometimes messy. If you bumble something you say in one of these talks, do what you would do when writing. Edit!

Say something like,

 “What I just said isn’t quite right. Let me try that again. I want to get closer to what I’m trying to convey.”

 Wow, that was unclear. Let me try to reword that to make it more clear.”

 “Let me backtrack for a moment. What I mean is this…..”

And then try again. Simply start over with what you wanted to say, making an attempt to be more succinct and more clear. There is no rule in communications that says you can’t edit and reword what you say when it comes out less than perfectly.  In fact, the simple act of doing that often opens up communication. By being less than perfect, by being real, others often relax and we reach a better connection.


Make The Words Yours

Keep in mind whatever words you choose to say, you need to own.  In the beginning these direct conversations may feel awkward. You may feel unsure of how to word things. Over time it will get easier as your confidence grows and the discomfort becomes less disconcerting.  Till then, try to use these phrases above to get started. You may edit them a touch to make them yours, but refrain from going back to your old ways or you will get your old results.

As you try out these phrases, let me know how they worked for you.  If you come up with other great opening lines, I hope you’ll share them. I’d love to hear your experiences.

Six Steps to Initiating Difficult Conversations

Starting the conversation is the hard part.

Starting the conversation is the hard part.

There’s something about difficult conversations that keeps us stuck. We know we need to speak up, but instead we shut down. Rather than take action and get the conversation behind us, we obsess over it.

How should we say it? Will they get mad? How will they respond? Will they turn it around on us? What if they cry?  Suppose we lose control? What if, what if, what if. On and on we go. While we sit obsessing on what needs to be said, time passes. Tension builds. Resentment grows. The gap between us widens. Broaching the subject only gets harder as we procrastinate.

Nike built a zillion dollar brand on the slogan, Just Do It! Why not use that brilliance to inspire us? Waiting doesn’t make it easier. If you want easy, it is by far easier to jump in and handle the conversation than to wait.

Here are six steps to help you Just Do It with your difficult conversation:

  1. Know the goal  – What outcome do you want? In your mind, name that outcome…briefly and simply. Is it compromise? Understanding? Clearing the air? (If it isn’t a positive outcome…say for example, you want to punish them, or anger them, or get payback, then take no action. The Way to Say It is about coming from a positive place.)
  2. Be your “best” self  –  What’s that? It’s honest, direct, clear and calm, or at least even-tempered.  It also means having patience with others as well as owning your stuff.
  3. Don’t make issues bigger than they are  –  No extra drama. Nothing that is not relevant or necessary to reach understanding. Keep your wording brief and relevant. Less is best.
  4. Listen more than you speak  –  Know you only see one perspective, i.e., yours. By listening to what they have to say and sharing honestly yourself, you’ll learn their point of view and that is critical to resolution.
  5. Give up being right  –  Even if you are right, the goal is understanding. Understanding their point of view and feeling understood yourself.
  6. Accept how it turns out  –  Know that handling difficult conversations with grace takes practice. Accept that at first they may be messy, imperfect, but your efforts to step into these conversations are to be applauded. The conversation may be bumpy. Accept that. Focus on the outcome and congratulate yourself on your efforts.

As with most things in life, taking even the smallest step makes it all easier. Keep this in mind: the conversation itself is not the hardest part. It’s starting the conversation that turns us to stone.  It takes guts to be real, honest and direct.  The great news is more often than not, within minutes of initiating these conversations tension melts and relief floods in.

Next week,  I’ll share actual phrases,opening lines and words to say in these challenging conversations.