Having Effective Conversations about Difficult Situations

We all have to face up to the fact that we will have to begin conversations about touchy subjects in different relationships throughout life. We may try to put them off for as long as possible because we don’t want to deal with it, but eventually, to keep the relationship healthy, we must. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you have to broach a sensitive subject with someone close to you.

Choose the right time

It may never feel like the exact right time because you know it’s going to be a difficult conversation to have, but there are definitely better times than others. If you plan to do it on a certain day, but then find out the other person is sick, exhausted, or upset about something, it’s better to put it off a bit longer than to bring it up then. When both people are in a good frame of mind, a difficult conversation can end up not being as challenging as you expected. In fact, you may find out that the other person has been wanting to talk to you about it too.

Keep your feelings in check

Allow enough time to have passed so that you aren’t as emotional or angry as you originally were. When we bring a heavy dose of emotion into a difficult situation, it only amplifies everything – the words, thoughts, and feelings of everyone involved. Before you bring up the topic, make sure that you can discuss it as objectively as possible. It will make the whole thing go more smoothly.

Listen without immediate judgement

When it’s the other person’s turn to explain their side of the story or version of the situation, keep your thoughts clear. Really hear what they are saying to you. To do that, you must refrain from thinking about how you will respond when they are finished. We do this frequently in all types of conversations, and we should do our best to avoid it. But it’s never more important than when we are having a difficult conversation with someone we care about.

Understand that conflict happens

Even in the closest, most loving relationships, conflict is going to occur sometimes. If you have built a strong, healthy relationship with the other person, don’t let your fear of losing them run away with you. Strong relationships can tolerate the occasional argument or uncomfortable talk. It’s much better than the alternative, which is to bottle up anger and hurt, which results in resentment and disconnection.

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