Let’s say you found the courage to ask for a time to talk to someone about something difficult. Let’s say that other person said okay. Let’s say the conversation went fairly well.

One area that is routinely overlooked is ending the conversation by having a conversation about what could be said (or not said) about the conversation to anyone else.

We all talk about each other outside of the times we are together. So, chances are you may have spoken to someone else about this person who you finally decided to speak with. Your own “supporters” may want to know how it went. Or there may be some more formal reporting out to a co-worker, team or supervisor.

A colleague of mine told me that in the newsrooms, there’s a saying “Define or be defined!”

Unless we pause at the end of our difficult conversations and discuss how you want to talk about your conversation, either of you may say things outside of your conversation that doesn’t work for the other. 

Take the time at the end of a meeting to clarify what each person thinks was agreed to and what will be said to others.

Sometimes it can also be like a breath of fresh air to simply admit there are side conversations going on outside the meeting – and then be able to come to some agreements about what will be said outside of the meeting going forward.

There are no guarantees the parties will “stick to” what was discussed. In fact, there are no guarantees that the parties will even remember or remember accurately what was discussed.

And, that’s not the point, per se.

The point is to raise the awareness that, when we do talk to others about each other, we do so deliberately – and hopefully with sensitivity.

That can be a good thing!