To take the hard right or the easy left, that is the question.

Sometimes in relationships, you want to say something uncomfortable for the other person to hear, but you are nervous about how they will respond.

I call these hard right or the easy left convo.

A good friend of mine coined this phrase where when we want to say something that the person may not want to hear; we prefix it with “this is a hard right.”

We agreed that we must be able to “go there,” and the relationship survives those vigorous conversations. In my view, this has contributed to our friendship lasting more than 25 years.

It can be daunting to have a hard right with your direct reports, clients, or even family members. It all depends on the relationship you have.

That said, I can only have them with a handful of people as they are never easy, and at times I have chosen the easy left to keep the peace or avoid conflict altogether.

But how do you have a hard-right without it coming out wrong?

During a terrible winter, I had this situation with a plumber as I was very unhappy with the service he provided but knew that if I did not manage my frustration when I spoke to him, it would come out wrong, and I would not get what I wanted – which was heat.

I wrote out what I wanted to say and how I felt first and then called him. And we were able to resolve the situation amicably.

Here are a couple of instances that call for having a hard right:


A client consistently pays late, and you have to call them out – either by email or on a phone call. It might be uncomfortable to do, but necessary.


A friend says or does something that you don’t like, and you decide to speak up.

Personal relationship:

You are upset with the behaviour of a family member, and this could be as simple as saying I don’t feel supported by you because when I did xx, you were not there, and your feedback is important to me as I value your opinion.

I think that often we let things pass for fear of recriminating arguments or some adverse reaction, but the value of a relationship, be it business or personal, pivots on what it is worth to you and if you have the courage to take the hard right and it survives the discussion.

Action point:

Have you considered the other person’s position before you speak up? Are you standing in their shoes? Consider the pros and cons of going right or left as sometimes having these conversations depends very much on ‘how’ something is said instead of what is said.