Tara's Thoughts

Acing Difficult Conversations

Posted on: November 14, 2022

Leah Zimmerman, Family Conflict Expert, CEPA

Founder of Stepping Stool Coaching

Coaching is a thing. In our society it has become an industry. 

That says a lot about our need for guidance through this very complicated life we humans have created for ourselves.  There are business coaches, fitness coaches, lifestyle coaches, vocal coaches, spiritual coaches, financial coaches and more.  And each category of coaching is individually important for the specific endeavor chosen. All wonderful resources! No shade here.

But think on this:  Across all of those industries and focused goals there is a shared need that often goes unrecognized and unfulfilled. Throughout our lives and careers the one ever-present element we cannot escape is the need to communicate with other people. And sometimes that is not easy to do.

For most of my life when face with difficult conversations all I knew how to do was present the facts as I knew them and hope the evidence would turn animosity into agreement. My record of success was nearly zero.

Understanding how to negotiate difficult conversations is a skill that remains out of reach for many of us.  And yet, if we are to have agency in our own lives, if we hope to achieve our goals, the ability to handle difficult conversations is essential. It is a learned skill we will need to apply in every area of our lives.

I first met Leah Zimmerman, founder of Stepping Stool Coaching, in a group setting outside of her coaching work.  I was intrigued by the calm, centered, courageous way she presented herself.  I was struck by the gentle certainty and inner peace she projected.

At one point she spoke of a difficult conversation she knew she would be having in the near future and then said, “That’s OK. I know how to handle difficult conversations.” 

Even with no information about her background or profession I was compelled to say to her (only half joking!), “Could you teach a class in that?”  Her reply: “Actually, that is what I do.”

 At one point she spoke of a difficult conversation she knew she would be having in the near future. And then she said, “That’s OK. I know how to handle difficult conversations.”  I was compelled to say to her (only half joking!), “Could you teach a class in that?”  Her reply: “Actually, that is what I do.”

Well.  Having lived a life that did not include the opportunity to learn any kind of people skills, I jumped at the chance to attend one of Leah’s free workshops.  In the first few moments of her Masterclass I began to see a world of perspectives, tools, and opportunities that had never before been visible to me.

As I listened to her speak Leah seemed to see the conversation going on in my head and acknowledged my resistance before I could finish speaking my “But what if…..?” reactions. She then offered techniques that allowed me to shift my initial perceptions of a situation, uncovering instead opportunities for positive, effective communication.   

Leah was able to unravel a lifetime of mysteries that had left me believing there could be nothing but brick walls in my way.

My journey to a better understanding of successful communication is just beginning but now I know where to find the insights and the tools I will need to make that skill set a part of my life.

Here’s my takeaway – Every session with Leah is filled with insights. Each time I attend a coaching session with her I end up with dimensions of understanding that I would not have found on my own. Old stories look entirely different to me now. New challenges don’t give me that deer-in-the-headlights moment that used to make me feel powerless. At least not always. I will get better with practice and the gentle, confident guidance of Leah Zimmerman.

And you can, too!

To learn more about Stepping Stool Coaching

Contact Leah at:

Leah at SteppingStoolCoaching dot com

4 Responses to "Acing Difficult Conversations"

Nicely said, Tara, and beautifully written. What a great skill set to grow, and grow with. I look forward to chatting with you more about this. ✨🌈🌸🌈✨!

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Liked by 2 people

Thank you, Malcolm. I do so appreciate your stopping by. I have long admired your ability to see the positive aspects in all you see. I have much to learn from you.

Liked by 1 person

I imagine, Tara, the current prevalence of the coaching–industrial complex you cite is owed in part to the fact that we’re not given a lot of necessary skill sets in life — not at all by school, and often not by parents — so we’re left to figure those things out “the hard way.” We’re not shown at all how to be good citizens, good consumers, good communicators, good neighbors. I imagine a lot of us — maybe most of us — have not been taught “people skills.” Perhaps one day coaches like Leah will be teachers in schools, imparting this wisdom to young people!

Liked by 1 person

Here Here!, Sean. I have often wished for just that kind of thinking in our society. They teach us how to sew a handbag or run a race but not how to understand each other or even how to understand ourselves. I knew at the age of 5 what I wanted to do with my life. (Or at least the first part of it.) But most people either struggle to find their life pursuit or are directed by family expectations rather than by an inner understanding of what gifts they possess or what they are passionate about. In my most deeply felt day dreams I have imagined creating a program of self-discovery for every school child that would help young people explore their own inner landscape in order to provide some guidance into what life choices would be a good fit for them. And, boy! do I wish somebody had taught a class on people skills!

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