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Sometimes you have to give a message to people that you know they don’t want to hear- you know that feeling you get when you stomach sinks and you dread doing it? Well I had that.

I have a rather over developed flight or fight response that means that in the past I’ve followed a rather strict regime of a) bury my head in the sand b) pray it will all go away and then c) run away.

Needless to say this is the least effective way of dealing with, well, anything. As I’ve got older I’ve got better- that might be confidence, it might be age (that equals wisdom right?), it must just be practice. This last time I blame- sorry, credit- my non use of the 3 step tactic to a good friend who basically told me to stop whining and man up.

So I’ve got this message I need to give. I was describing the situation to my good friend who suggested that I help that person learn from themselves- encourage them to uncover the answer without me saying a word.

Sound advice and I know it had worked for him in the past… But the more I thought about doing it that way, the more I thought about how disastrous the outcome might be. So the principle was sound but the delivery was wrong.

I thought about all my interactions with this person, how they like information delivered and how they respond best and it came to me that they had an incredibly visual learning style (people like that are solely keeping printer ink in business as you have to print everything out!). So how did I take a challenging message and tailor it to the audience who only really connects with something visually.

The answer? Metaphor. A lovely visual metaphor with me drawing on a piece of paper, lots of gesticulation and embroidery; and do you know what? It worked. Better than I could have hoped. I did something I was frankly dreading and it was well received and actually appreciated.

So I think my conclusion is two fold. Firstly, don’t be afraid to give challenging messages to people if they’re important but secondly, make sure you do it in the right way for the person you’re speaking to and sometimes that means getting a bit creative but it’s worth it.