“Never give the problem a year and the solution a week.” The author Jon Acuff posted this pithy comment about someone who had gone to the gym for a few weeks and hadn’t lost all of the weight they were hoping to lose…which, as it would turn out, took them years to put on.
It made me think about recent conversations I’ve had about difficult conversations.
The pattern looks like this. We become aware of the need for the conversation. We take the workshop. We prepare. We set our intention. We gather the confidence, energy, and chutzpah to have the conversation, and we believe that after that 20-minute convo, all will be right in the world.
The proverbial weight will not so much be lost, but in this case, lifted.
The relationship will be back to normal. The angst diminished and calm prevail. Honky dory status re-established.
From your viewpoint, you’ve done your part in preparing and delivering your side of the story…but the problem has been building for “a year.”
The emotions built up, festered, and took their toll on your energy, and theirs.
There’s the trust fallout. The old adage of hard-to-build, easy-to-break comes into play and one conversation alone will not repair the damage done. Trust takes time to rebuild.
Yes, you’ve prepped, prepared, and practiced the conversation, but the other person hasn’t taken the workshop, they don’t know what’s coming, and they don’t respond according to plan. You think, “Well why did they react that way? Didn’t they hear my thoughtful presentation and delivery?”
Perhaps they did, but the problem has been building for “a year,” and your solution was a 20-minute conversation. Jon’s wise words come in again: never give the problem a year and the solution a week.
Have the conversation. Adjust the expectations around results. Recalibrate how you measure the time it takes to rebuild the relationship, re-establish trust, and let the emotions dissipate and fade.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if every difficult conversation led to a hug-out?
The reality: Things take time. People need to process. To react. To take it in. To let it go.
This does not mean that the effort of having a difficult conversation didn’t pay off…it’s letting the solution settle and take hold, which may take some time.