Use Jouska + 4 Simple Steps to Improve Difficult Conversations

Have you ever held a conversation in your mind reviewing it from all angles such as asking your boss for a raise?  As you picture the meeting, you feel your heart start to race, your hands feel clammy, you think about all the reasons why you are deserving, and every rebuttal you may face so you’ll be armed with strong examples.

How about playing and re-playing a difficult conversation you’ve been postponing? “If she says that, I’ll say this,” reviewing every possible angle.  And while you are generating arguments for all possible obstacles and the potential direction the conversation could take, you are experiencing the physiological response You’ve done this, we all have, but what you may not know there is a name for it. Jouska.

Simply put, Jouska is a hypothetical conversation that you play out over and over again in your mind.  Jouska generates emotion, and from the emotion a corresponding physical reaction.  It’s a practice ring in your mind, and it can be a very useful method to prepare for a difficult conversation.

We all enter into conversations with our own opinions, feelings, theories, and experiences. Our opinions differ from others because they are based on our perspective. Even when we have common experiences, our feelings and  perceptions will differ. When you add high stakes and strong emotions, there is a risk that we may not show up as our best self.

Here are some steps and questions to improve your effectiveness during any difficult conversation. And the bonus is you may also improve your relationships.

  1. Take your thoughts, logic and expectations about the other person, and instead turn the focus toward yourself. Ask yourself: What part am I playing within this situation? Am I being realistic or making assumptions? Do I have all of the facts? How much of what I’m feeling is based on previous history?
  2. Recognize that every problem is co-created. Don’t get caught in the belief that others are the source of your problems. It takes two to tango, and we often don’t consider what part we’ve played.  Take ownership for your actions and behaviors during the conversation, and consider how your behavior before, during and after the conversation may affect your relationship.
  3. Evaluate your potential to slip into flight or fight mode, also called “silence or violence.” In silence mode you may withdrawal from the conversation, avoid the hard and sticky topics, or mask your intentions during the interaction. In violence mode, you may go on the attack, labelling or attempting to control the outcome.  Both responses can result in your brain experiencing an emotional hijack where you lose the ability to stay focused on what’s really important.
  4. After you’ve set the stage with the above three steps, ask yourself these questions to help provide clarity on what you want and need out of the conversation:
  • What do I want for myself?
  • What do I want for the other person?
  • What do I want for the relationship?
  • How would I behave if I really wanted these results?

Adding these steps while using Jouska can make your preparation for difficult conversations more effective.

If you want to learn more about how you communicate during times of stress, and what your default communication style is, take this quick, easy, and free online questionnaire. The results will give you insights to your default communication style during difficult conversations.


BenchStrength Coaching, LLC works with leaders to improve their overall communication and to identify potential barriers for successful dialogue.  To find out how we can help you or your organization, contact us at

Article written by Christine Noffz