Difficult conversations occur when someone or everyone has an expectation of what is going to happen or what they want to have happen. The keyword is expectations.
When communicated effectively, expectations can be set so that difficult conversations never have to happen. This would be something that can be proactively obviously, but the problem here comes in when having to have the difficult conversations.
Expectations can still be communicated effectively when having these conversations. By simply taking responsibility (speaking from I) you can share what you wanted to have happen and what didn’t happen.
Example, “I wanted to talk with you because I had an expectation that you would be done with this project weeks ago. I didn’t verbalize my expectation so I have become frustrated. Rather than blame you for an expectation I never shared, I wanted to talk with you now about my expectations as well as find out what your expectations are.”
This gives the other person the perceived power to share, they weren’t attacked, and it shows that you are willing to work with them.
These conversations can go smoothly when you don’t attack and show that you are looking at yourself as much as you are looking at them.