Difficult Conversations: Sadness = Sadness (Liv’s story)

Full screen

Sadness is a common reaction to difficult conversations. Sadness can look like disappointment, hurt, despair.

How one reacts in the face of sadness varies. Common reactions include:

In a shared space, few people are given the time and permission to experience sadness for as long as they need.  In each of the above stories, the goal is always the same. LET THEM FEEL THE SADNESS.

What you do or say needs to be tailored to your reaction in the face of sadness. Read each story variation and give it a try.


Let's unpack Liv's reaction to sadness with sadness. If you are a more sensitive and/or empathetic person, a blurring of emotional ownership is your stress response. Their emotion becomes your emotion.

When Liv falls apart, it interrupts her boss' despair. It's an unspoken message to get over yourself and pay attention to me. Let me be clear, this unspoken message is not intentional. Caught off guard, an empathetic person will get overwhelmed with another's emotions - suddenly you've got double the turmoil. Of course you're going to act in a way that seeks help or relief!

So what can Liv do? Visualizing a glowing boundary is a helpful way to ground oneself. When the boundary is solid, Liv can communicate from the safety of her emotional boundary. Notice how Liv gives her boss the choice of when to meet next. She consciously breaks up difficult conversations into mini, manageable exposure points. These are collaborative moves with the unspoken message, "I'm here. I'm committed to work through this with you".


Back to blog

Leave a comment