Conversations Courage Dialogue Mindset Values

Tough Love

Tough love conversations are the hardest to have.
Here’s why.

When was your last tough love conversation?

What was tough about it? 

When and how did the love part show its face?

Before I continue, I assume you’re familiar with the principle of tough Love.

Tough Love is the ability to be direct, constructive, specific, and to the point about someone’s behavior while balancing this with a general feeling of empathy, understanding, connection, and compassion.

A tough love conversation happens when you want someone to take ownership of their actions while leaving them feeling you mean well and are available for support.

Tough love conversations are the most challenging conversations to have.

Because of you, the sender, and because of the receiver. 

Because it’s not easy to balance the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ on either side of the conversation.

Let’s start with you, the sender of the message.

You want to change someone’s behavior. Someone you care about but who is in danger of falling from the ‘proverbial’ cliff if the issue is not addressed.

A breakup, a firing, a friendship going south. Stuff like that.

You don’t want to jeopardize the relationship, but you also want to make sure the behavior changes.

Not an easy task.

This is mainly because there’s another person, the receiver, whose reaction you cannot predict.

Very often, when people get confronted with their behavior, they get angry (remember, underlying fear) and then turn to one of the three Ds:

1. Denial: it never happened.
2. Defend: I did it because of this and this reason.
3. Deflect: it was somebody else.

Predictable human behavior and hard to get through when mixed with anger.

Especially when dealing with a person with a fixed mindset. They will refuse to see the merits of your effort and continue to do what they’ve always done.

Think of someone who reacts precisely like this. Now imagine how they will respond when you address their behavior.

They get mad. You feel bad. You don’t want to make it worse, so you back off. 

“I didn’t mean it this way.”

And nothing changes.

Been there. Done that.

But you can’t back off if their behavior hurts you, your team, or your business.

You can’t let it go.

So what happens? Because the behavior continues, this often results in walking away from the person (breakup, firing).

The person won’t change.

And you don’t want to feel hurt anymore.

But that’s not the solution I had in mind when I wrote that you couldn’t let it go.

There are ways to prepare yourself properly for these conversations.

There are tried and tested structures to initiate these conversations and increase the chances of success.

There are tactics to deal with the three Ds of denial, defensiveness, and deflection.

Simply put, there’s a way to have these tough love conversations and both come out on top and become better people.

You want to create a win-win outcome that both persons feel as such.

Perhaps not immediately after the conversation, but when the behavior has changed, and everyone witnesses the benefits.

In conclusion.

We all avoid tough love conversations because we’re afraid of the consequences.

Stop hurting yourself and have the courage to prepare for your conversation. 

I’ll be able to help you. Click this link to schedule a free 30′ conversation.

Your turn: What is a tough love conversation you’re avoiding?

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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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