You cannot run a business without having difficult conversations.

Last week, I was whining to my husband about how I don’t want to work with a client because of clash of values, but don’t want to talk to them because they’ll further persuade me. And he went, “you cannot run a business without having difficult conversations.” 

Damn, the man doesn’t mince words. So, I picked up the phone and made the call and it kinda worked out.

In the workplace, if you’re scared of having difficult conversations, stop. I’ve asked for a significant increase in rates and have got it. I’ve fired clients, while still remaining friends. I’ve said no and, of course, pissed people off as well. All of this is par for the course.

If you’re still reluctant to have difficult conversations, or you are easily numbed when you’re in one, here are some things that helped me.

  • Not being self-deprecating. I realised that when I am self-deprecating, people took it as permission to patronise me.

  • Making the decision and not flip-flopping. Let’s say I’ve decided that I won’t write for less than Rs. 10,000. Now, if the client offers Rs. 9,000, I won’t take it. I’ve decided what my walk away price is. Anything less, I walk away.

  • Not giving the impression that my decisions are flexible. If I decide that I don’t want to work with a particular client, I won’t leave the call saying, “let me think about it more”. I mean, I’ll take as much time as I need to make a decision, but the client shouldn’t get the feeling that I’m just looking to be persuaded more.

  • Focussing on the outcome. Once I have that conversation, the problem will be solved. I won’t have the anxiety about that conversation tomorrow, and that’s a pleasure to look forward to.

  • Remembering that it gets easier. Because trust me, it does.