Always tell someone how you feel, because opportunities are lost in the blink of an eye, but regret can last a lifetime.
— Anon

There is a time and a place for everything...or so my mother said, so often that I attribute the phrase to her entirely. In my work these days, I notice more and more that refers also to the time and place for a difficult conversation.

My desire to speak about a challenging topic with a friend or collegue as soon as the need arises has not always worked out so well. Is this a conversation everyone has agreed to have at this place and time? Maybe my friend is having an exceptionally bad day, or my work mate is brooding over a fight they just had with their partner. Or maybe they are dealing with some invisible medical condition I will never know about. Usually it's just plain old stress, the kind that makes it impossible to listen and focus on anything well. I have been there. Some days, my mind buzzes with my to-do list playing like a tune you can't get out of your head on repeat. It's hard to hear in those moments.

Choosing the wrong time to talk can have negative effects on the success of the conversation in so many ways. Yes, you may not even be heard, but what you say and how you say it can speak unedited volumes you didn't intend to share, so being in a frame of mind that assists you in getting your message across is a good place to start. Take a pause and check in with yourself. Do you have your emotions in check, or do they have you, like a hand around your throat?

I can remember hearing something like, 'the best time to say what you think is now, right now...' and I do not agree with that, although it sounds powerful. Being sensitive to timing is an art. Speaking my mind with eloquence and clarity becomes possible when I take the time to check in with myself first. Taking time to really understand our own perspective raises the likelihood that we will communicate it clearly, and that our message can be received, heard, respected and appreciated, even if the news is not about rainbows and sunshine. Deliver that message on time! This might be days, weeks, or months later, after the calm has set in. Gain insight, learn more, and negotiate a time to talk that is right for everyone.