Say It From the Heart: How to Initiate Powerful Conversations

One of the questions I get most often from clients is around how to initiate meaningful and powerful conversations. This could be verbally setting a boundary with your mother-in-law so she knows you don’t appreciate {and would like her to stop} her comments about the cleanliness of your home or your personal appearance. It could also mean speaking to your partner about a behavior of theirs that is negatively impacting you, or letting your boss know you’re looking for professional growth and that next step in your career

We are often scared to bring up topics that feel really big to us. We fear not saying the right thing, or worse, having the other person respond in a less than favorable manner, and potentially causing damage to a relationship or our reputation.

If you’re feeling resistance to having a certain conversation, chances are it’s making you feel vulnerable because it’s important and means a lot to you. As Brené Brown describes in her book Daring Greatly, vulnerability is anything that includes uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. 

We avoid these vulnerable conversations because we’re afraid of rejection and disappointment. The thing is, you can’t outsmart rejection or disappointment.  Eventually, whatever needs to come into the light will, and with the added weight of avoidance, typically comes {in my experience} added resentment and emotional volatility. This makes whatever conversation you’ve been avoiding that much more unpredictable, uncertain, risky, and emotionally loaded {vulnerable}.

Problems don’t just evaporate and go away on their own. There is some element of communication that needs to transpire in order to create the relief we desire. It’s through communication that we transform any conflict that may be present and gather more information, which has the power to illuminate new resources and even solutions for the problem at hand. It’s also how we come to truly know and understand one another.

How to Prepare for Powerful Conversations

two women sit opposite of each other on swings, talking

1. Consider timing – Finding a time that is good for everyone involved is key to any productive conversation. As my therapist once said, “You can’t just go around being an emotional terrorist, demanding that people talk to you whenever you’re ready.” Both, or all parties need to be willing and able.

2. Go in with positive intent – With so many intense emotions, these powerful conversations can feel as if they’re a face-off between us and the other person. Not so. Write down what it is you want to accomplish in that conversation. What is the purpose of bringing this topic to the table? Why is it important to you? What do you hope to achieve? How does it benefit you, the other person, your family, community etc.

3. Demonstrate forethought – Powerful conversations don’t just happen to arise out of nowhere. Usually we’ve spent days {perhaps even weeks or longer} mulling over the situational details, our emotions and ruminating on various scenarios in our head. How can you communicate the various ways you’ve tried to find a solution on your own? How can you communicate how much this means to you? How can you prepare for any rebuttals?

Pro Tip: By saying how important something is verbally {not just with our outward emotions} we create a safe place for vulnerability and open ourselves up for connection with the other person{s}. 

4. Listen with Compassion – Powerful conversions aren’t just about voicing our opinion or sharing something that is important and weighing on our heart. Listening is such a key factor and most of the time we are so worried about what we are going to say that we fail to really listen and hear what the other person is saying. Be ready and willing to hear the other person’s point of view.

5. Create a Plan – Now that you are in the conversation you’ve been thinking about and preparing for, what happens now?  What are the proposed actions or takeaways from the conversation? How do you and the other person or parties plan to make sure those actions are carried out? The conclusion to any powerful conversation is coming to agreement on where to go from that point forward and everyone’s individual responsibilities.

The things we don’t say, cause us so much unnecessary stress in our lives. Can we start to see that we have the power to free ourselves from that burden? Quoting Brené Brown once again, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

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Kimberly Smith
Kimberly Smith is a Mindset & Resilience Coach and the founder of Encompass Life Coaching. She is a native New Yorker, proud Houstonian, truth seeker, mental health and DEIJ advocate, mother, yogi, and dachshund lover. Kimberly was born in Phoenix, Arizona, raised in upstate New York, lived in Florida where her daughter Amelia {June 2014} was born, and now proudly calls Houston her home. She is degreed in Sociology and Psychology, is an internationally certified life and career coach, and previously spent over a decade in corporate talent acquisition and staffing helping professionals level up and pivot their careers. Now as an entrepreneur, through coaching services, speaking, and writing, Kimberly helps ambitious women, mothers, and entrepreneurs stop stressing and focus, so they can flourish within their careers, families, businesses, and relationships. Kimberly’s clients move through self-doubt, build a positive and resilient mindset while increasing energy and confidence, and crushing their personal and professional goals. Kimberly is a servant leader passionate about dissolving the stigma around mental health, advocating for diversity, equity, inclusion and justice, and is dedicated to empowering others to live more authentic lives full of passion, purpose, courage, freedom and adventure. In her free time, Kimberly can be found sweating it out in a hot yoga class, running the White Oak Bayou trail, enjoying live music, exploring Houston markets, museums, and restaurants, or snuggling up on the couch to watch documentaries with her two dachshunds Winnie & Doyal. You can connect with Kimberly on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or grab Kimberly’s free Mindset & Affirmations bundle at


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