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The Fool Proof Guide To Braving Difficult Conversations

As a nutrition professional, you may find yourself faced with difficult conversations with clients or colleagues. Moreover these conversations can be uncomfortable and overwhelming, but they are often necessary for positive change and to maintain healthy relationships.

What’s more, tough conversations can trigger your flight, fight or freeze response. We often choose this career path as a means to help people! (hello classic people pleaser personality) If you’re like us, you’re no stranger to pulling the classic avoidance card.

However, that move not in our or our client’s best interest. At some stage we all need to step into our big girl (or boy) boots and learn how to hold difficult conversations. We promise that it won’t be something you regret.

Therefore, with these tools we aim to empower you to build the confidence to successfully overcome those fears around having tough chats. After all, a difficult conversation is an opportunity to:

  • Shed light on how to resolve a problem
  • Embrace constructive change
  • Gain a deeper understanding
  • Build and repair relationships

How will we do this?

Well we are going to use our DEAR MAN Acronym of course. (Cue L.O.V.E by Frank Sinatra!)

DEAR MAN Let’s Have Difficult Conversations


D – Describe the facts.

Stay objective and avoid judgement. Detail the situation. Keep it factual.

E – Express your feelings.

Using “I” statements. Describe how you felt at the time and how you feel now.

A – Assert yourself.

This is your time to ask for what you need, set a boundary, or say no. Remain as clear and concise as possible.

R – Reinforce positivity.

Identify something positive or rewarding for the other person. This is a chance to clarify the negative outcomes of not being met halfway, but always remain positive.

(Offer a carrot, don’t beat with a stick!)


M – Stay mindful.

Focus on the goal of the conversation. Don’t get side-tracked or distracted. Take a break as needed.

A – Appear confident.

Yes, fake it ’til you make it. Acknowledge that it’s totally normal to feel nervous or scared. Put on a brave face, even if you don’t feel it on the inside.

N – Negotiate.

This is a two way conversation. For them to meet you halfway, you must meet them halfway.

Be willing to negotiate with yourself and them in order to access change or come to an agreement. Offer alternative. If you said ‘no’, offer another option. (e.g. offer to help them connect with someone else who may be in a better position to help).

Therefore, thanks to DEAR MAN you now have a fool proof guide to braving difficult conversations. As a result, this is a great way to start building your confidence and embracing the discomfort. Lastly, the next step is to build the tools in the toolbox to help you put DEAR MAN into action. At Compeat Academy we’ve got you covered in our How to host and hold difficult conversations course.