How to Have a Difficult Conversation with your Loved Ones

Have you been putting off a conversation that you need to have with someone? Has it been itching at the back of your mind ever sense “that thing” happened? You want to approach them, or maybe your waiting for them to approach you. Whatever the case may be, there is anxiety building up said thing, and it will not go away till you have that conversation. This is one of many cases where a text message or even a phone call will not suffice. You have to get close and look a person in the eye. To get the most out of mending old/recent wounds with the people we love, we need to be face-to-face. There are occasions where a phone call is enough. Whether it be distance from one another or unwillingness to meet, the phone call might be the only option. Otherwise, to properly mend decaying relationships, the face-to-face option will be best. I’m going to give you 5 tips to get the most out of your confrontation. Not to say it will be easy, but proper planning on issue will go along way!

1. Study your Emotional Foot Print

Every Human being has a variety of emotions we don’t completely understand. We act emotional when something triggers us, most likely making us defensive and needing to lash our in anger, sorrow, despair, etc. After the confrontation passes, the feelings of guilt can take us. Immediately regretting the things we said and we go into apology mode. Saying sorry to the person, but not understanding why any of it happened in the first place. Things like this can happen again and again under different circumstances. It’s fine to feel guilt when things like this happens, but rushing to say sorry without looking into one’s self can be short-sided. This emotional pattern as the potential to research again and again till you take the time to understand how it works.

Look back during the situation and look for the emotional escalation in you. When did it happen and what was the defining trigger that was set off?

Ask yourself questions:

How do you handled emotions has a child?

Was there anything in the past that was similar to what is happening now?

How do your loved ones react to your stronger emotions?

Really analyze these patterns. Keep the notions of blame and denial out of your head when you’re thinking about it. There could of been some emotional build up that lead to the escalation, Child hood trauma that brings about emotional limitations. You never really know till you talk about it, and that can be hard. Discover lines in the sand that makes you feel a certain way, then understand how it effects others. You might get a glimpse into their perspective.

2. Plan it Out

Make a List

Plan. This. Out! If you have been sitting on this for years and the relationship has never been the same, then you need to prep. Being prepared for any difficult conversation is good for that matter. It wouldn’t hurt to notify the person, explain enough that there needs to be a TALK between you two, and about what. Then settle on a date to make it happen. With the other party in the know, there is more of a chance that they will be willing to push through the awkwardness and keep the conversation going.

Plan somewhere quiet without interruption. It’s best to work through awkward moments between the both of you and not have an outside source to immediately galivant to. Going for a quiet walk can help if movement helps you both think, Sitting in the living room on the couch. Make it as personal and away from others as possible. Grant it, if your afraid things might go wrong, or afraid physicality might get involved, then notify someone you trust! Tell them what you’re doing and use your best judgment from there.

Set a timer for how long the TALK should take. Giving the subject a limited amount of time is good. It gives you both the ability to walk away and possibly reconvene with fresh thoughts on the issue. These things can be emotionally taxing and it’s best not to over load each other. Thirty minutes to an hour is enough time to get your initial points across.

3. Be Receptive and Respectful

If you are leading the conversation, set the tone! be open and respectful about the other persons thoughts and allow them to finish their statement. It’s difficult to hold back sometimes when triggers are bound to rise, but that’s why planning is good. You can anticipate something will bother you. Be willing to take criticism when it comes and don’t interrupt or cut them off when they open up.

When giving your perspective, Don’t use language such as “you”, or placing the other person in a state of blame. Use language like “us” and “we”, You’re working together through this. The ability to be objective about the situation will allow you to reach further in understanding the other person.

Narrow down the things about yourself that you want to protect! Gather what you learned from studying your emotional footprint. Reveal the things that really matter to you, the parts of your identity you want to keep intact. Respectfully covey to the other person how it makes you feel when they attack these aspects of your identity.

4. Listen and Validate the Person

Let them be Heard

Excepting one’s point-of-view is a big step towards them opening up. Validating there emotions and affirming “that it’s ok to feel like that” in this situation is huge! It takes the other person out of a defensive stance, thus creating an opening for them to listen to what you need to say. That understanding is hard to find. We human beings are social creatures. More than anything else, we want to be understood. Validating their emotions is saying,

“I see you and I understand you.”

which doesn’t mean you have to agree, far from it. But the relationship you have with this person should be more important. If you take the time to get this far, your odds of coming to a mutual understanding will increase. Strengthening the relationship.

5. Take Responsibility

Now this is a very important step to mending a relationship. Admitting to what you could do better, or how rash your reacted. Give a thought out explanation about what you learned and what you hope to achieve in the relationship. It helps to explain it from their perspective. It let’s them know that you’re aware of the issue they are having with you. Never give a short-sighted apology just to make the other person feel better. Or worst, “Apologize for how they feel,” This statement is not a real apology because it relinquishes responsibility from the person who says it. That might be fine for a conflict that’s not considered a “Difficult Conversation”, but we’re talking about just that. Skimp on the empty apologies! In fact, delete it all together if you want to have more fulfilling relationships in general.

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, if you follow these tips within the confines of your dispute, I’m sure you will be eagerly willing to settle unresolved conflicts with other loved ones. The world today is drabbed in loneliness and we tend to find comfort in someone new when our relationship with others fall out. But it only creates the same result as before, starting a cycle of emotional splitting. Relationships, in most cases, is all we have. Just reflections of one another. Tackling hard conversations is a chance to come to terms with the things we deny with ourselves. So please, Take action and prepare for your next “Difficult Conversation”. There’s only so much time.

If you want to learn more about having Difficult conversations, check out Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most. there is a summary on YouTube about this book as well. For more, there is also Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High. I want to thank you all for getting this far in my article and hope this helps.

Shine On!

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