Sometimes, we all have to have a difficult conversation with someone we love. Whether you’re staging an intervention for a family member who needs help or you need to address hurt feelings after an argument with your spouse over the holiday season, awkward conversations are a part of life. These chats can be very hard, as we feel uncomfortable and anxious about them. It’s easy for the conversation to become an argument, which doesn’t help. Here’s how to avoid that.
Prepare In Advance
A tough conversation will be a lot easier to have if you prepare yourself in advance. Be reasonable in your expectations and try not to plan out exactly what you want to say. Instead, get perspective of the issue by asking yourself some questions. What is the purpose of the conversation? What is the ideal outcome? Do you want to let someone know that their behavior has hurt you, or are you telling someone to seek help at a drug rehab center? How do you feel about the problem? What part of the situation are you responsible for? Thinking about these questions can help you to focus on why you’re doing this and what the point of it is.
Before you have the conversation, find self-soothing techniques that help you to calm down, such as deep breathing. Practice these if you worry about the conversation before you have it, and then you can turn to them if things get difficult.
Set A Time and Place
It’s hard to concentrate on more than one thing at once, so work with the other person to find a time that you can both talk without distractions. Choose a private, quiet place. You don’t want to be disturbed, and you will want privacy so you can both talk honestly without fear of being overheard by other people.
Raise The Issue
This can be the most challenging part. Be honest about what you feel the issue is. Be open, and willing to work with the other person to fix the problem. Be clear, and use specific examples of the behavior you wish to discuss. Don’t use accusatory language and try to avoid blaming them. Remember that their intention may not match up with the impact of their behavior, so instead of saying, “You always give me the silent treatment,”, say, “I feel pushed out when you’re quiet after an argument.” Focus on your feelings to avoid accusations and arguments.
Try To Understand
If you’re going to resolve the issue, you need to respect the other person and be willing to seek resolution. After telling them the issue, let them respond without you interrupting. Acknowledge the way that they are feeling. You don’t have to agree with them but should show that you understand, or are at least trying to understand.
Stay on topic, and don’t drag up every disagreement you have ever had with this person. If the conversation starts to derail, gently steer it back. Only discuss the one issue you planned to bring up.