Towards the end of her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama shares a moment a few days after they moved out of the White House after her tenure being FLOTUS.

She talks about how she went downstairs in their new home to go make toast.

I kept thinking if she would have made butter, peanut butter and jam on her toast.

Toast with butter, peanut and jam kicks. It’s very delicious.

There is an important technique to making that toast. You don’t just spread everything on the toast.

You make the toast, firstly put the butter, then the peanut butter and then lastly jam.

The butter is the foundation, the peanut butter is the midway and cover everything with the jam.

Technique is critical.

It is like the art of fine dinning [I learned this term recently: “fine dinning”], you start with the starter [light meal], then main course and then desert.

Technique is critical.

The same principle is critically important when having difficult conversations.

Having a difficult conversation with someone is something that we postpone until it we can’t postpone it anymore.

Just like Michelle Obama making toast, or in the art of fine dining, having difficult conversations has its own technique.

Firstly, don’t have difficult conversations when it is difficult to have them, in other words, don’t have difficult conversations when you are angry.

Postpone it, or talk a walk, get a punching bag, calm down, drink water, count to ten and then if you are calm, then have it.

Secondly, start the conversation with the good things that the person [the “culprit”] does. Compliment them on their awesomeness. Acknowledge their hard work and efforts. Be genuine about it.

Thirdly, after, only after you have complimented them, then you can outline the problem with them.

Lastly, conclude with the amazing things they do, and remind them about the areas of improvement they need to work on.

Having difficult conversations is like making a butter, peanut butter and jam sandwich. Technique is everything if you want the desired outcome.

Enjoy your toast and all the best with your difficult conversation.

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