How to Have Hard Conversations During Stressful Times

Have you ever had one of those tough and complicated days?

You get an email from someone, and it’s full of stress. Major stress.

Someone’s not happy. The tension gets transferred to you with each sentence you read.

When it’s a relative, you can’t ignore them, but you secretly dread opening another email or text. Then you feel guilty.

If it’s a prospect, they usually want to increase the scope of work, also known as the swell, yet they don’t want to pay you more.

Oh, yes! It’s real, but there’s one conversation that sets the stage for all communications–prayer.


Prayer is Not a Monologue; It’s a Dialogue

I can’t trust my own words. I blurt, and I make a mess of things on my own.

When I need to have an awkward conversation, first, I have a conversation with God. It doesn’t have to be wordy to be helpful.

Prayers are interactions with the creator of the universe. He is the one who holds the sun and moon in place. He’s the one who created you and me in his image for such a time as this.

Our conversations with God may look like praise, adoration, thanksgiving, faith, confession, petition, or “Help!” The latter is my go-to.

We may not hear anything, but we gain perspective. I credit God for that.

Sure, we can have an emotional reaction when someone vomits stress on us. I don’t like any kind of vomit—just saying.

Instead, I pray because prayer is not about getting my way; it’s about pursuing God—especially in business. It just takes a moment—sometimes seconds. There is “power in the pause.”

Whether we pray in the car, at work, or while we are in a meeting, God helps us with “people” conversations. It’s not so spiritual—it’s handy and practical. After all, God is in the people business.



Boundaries Are a Sign of Growth

Whatever way you support others, remember to set boundaries, and don’t play the role of the answer guru.

Boundaries that are the result of prayer will build others up. God wants us to get along, so he’ll help us grow in a way that will serve us and others well.

Boundaries are a sign of growth, and the evidence of growth is a better conversation. Instead of posting your “no trespassing” sign for others to respect, ask more questions. Find the answers together.

I love this translation of Ephesians 4:29 (Names of God Bible).

Don’t say anything that would hurt another person. Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is needed. That way, what you say will help those who hear you.

Your boundaries can produce grace-filled conversations that will lead others on a journey of self-discovery, but it’s still their choice.



Don’t Give Stress Permission to Take Over

People are more stressed these days because of our economy and an uncertain future. It’s understandable.

Your prayers are conversations that matter and will help you respond and not react to stress.

But, if you start feeling stressed, you’ve given stress permission to exist.

Don’t let emotions dominate your life; you have options.

If you pause and gain perspective, you can respond in a way that helps others and protects your health.



3 Practical Tips

It’s not easy. I’m writing this post because I had one of those moments, but I practice “the pause.”

We get better at responding instead of reacting with practice. The turnaround time from a negative emotional trigger to a healthy perspective gets shorter and shorter. In the meantime, try these three tips.

  1. Avoid resolving an issue over text or email.
  2. Avoid starting a conversation if you’re emotionally upset.
  3. Avoid taking everything personally; it may be stress vomit.


If you’re experiencing stress at home or work, know that no one is perfect; however, your desire to rise above the pressure will help you and others.

I believe peace is found in a person (Jesus) and not in our circumstances. Focus on the conversation that sets the stage for all communications—a dialogue with God.



Stay resilient!

Marisa Shadrick

Online Content Strategist and Certified Copywriter

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