Getting Through Difficult Conversations
It’s easier to say “I love you,” “we’ll figure things out,” “it’s fine,” or even “we don’t have to talk about it” than the words “we need to talk.”
I mean, it’s already kind of terrifying to receive that message or even worry about sending that message.
And I’m quite sure that even if we think avoiding it would make it better, it most definitely does not.
But that’s how relationships work. They’re not always the same as at the very beginning of the relationship, you know, the kind where it seems like it's all flowers, rainbows, and no conflicts.
There will be times when you’d have to have that conversation despite how many times you try to avoid it. You know the one that MIGHT spark arguments or disagreements with your partner.
So we’ve prepared a few ways to remember when you’re planning to, about to, or even during a difficult conversation. Now, these steps don’t magically turn the tables or fix the fact that you’re going to or having a difficult conversation
#1: Set the right tone
When you’re about to have a difficult conversation with your partner, the first thing you have to do is to calm down and not enter the conversation with an accusatory tone or the feeling of still being irritated.
This applies on both ends.
As much as a lot of people approach topics right after the incident, I do believe it is best to cool down before you initiate a conversation or even make sure that there are no other distractions.
And once you’ve cooled down, make sure that you don’t come off as aggressive. The right tone doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to sound like a lullaby or someone coming off as really sweet. Be inviting but not pushy.
Also, before you start, ask your partner if they’re ready to have that conversation instead of just jumping into it.
Now, when you’ve set the right tone at the beginning, you can start with letting each other understand that you have different points of view, and you might want to talk about something that may be hard for them to understand.
You have to also understand that when you start opening up about the topic that you’d want to talk about, your partner will start feeling defensive or alarmed and might start questioning you or look at you differently BUT it is your job to allow them to feel like that while you keep your own balance.
You have to remember that just because they are defensive does not mean that you have to be defensive as well. It is a problem against both of you.
#2: Prepare what you want to say
Not everyone can do this, especially when your emotions tend to overlap during overwhelming situations, BUT it is a little easier to prepare what you have to say to your partner.
This is most certainly not the time to bring up the ancient history of your relationship or drag other problems into the conversation. And this is definitely not the right time when you need to be right.
Instead of preparing the blame and what went wrong over and over again because it doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong, So instead, try to sit down and remind yourselves that it’s about finding the solution to the problem you’re facing.
The most creative solution comes from understanding different points of view.
And, leave “but..” sentences. It’s kind of like when you’re trying to soften the blow of bad news by stating good news. I mean, we’ve all had that or even said that at one point. “I really like you.. But…”
Although it doesn’t always seem like it, “but” is a critical comment.
Kind of when you see videos of girls saying “I like you, but I only see you as a friend.” or “You did so well today, but… you could’ve done better.”
Active listening is the key to making difficult conversations work.
That means that you have to pay close attention to what your partner is saying, and that doesn’t mean that you prepare a comeback for what doesn’t strike you or a comment when they’re talking mid-sentence, or even interrupt them when you believe that it is wrong.
Most importantly, stay present.
I mean, imagine if your partner would be busy with other things or dozing off when you’re sharing something that's quite important to you.
And instead of hastily rushing to answer them, or making judgments. Try to reflect on what they were saying. Rather than saying “because you’re…” why not try saying “let me see if I fully understand what you are saying and what you mean..”
These words alone can help you get things back on track without escalating arguments.
#4: Take a breather
No matter how hard you try to set the right tone or use the right words, the conversation might reach a point where it becomes too heated, or difficult to continue.
So instead of pushing it, and saying things you don’t mean, make a time-out signal, where you both agreed to literally “time out.”
There are phrases you can even use, such as: “Let’s stop for now,” “can we continue this in a few hours? I need to cool down.” or even “why don’t we take a breather.”
After you’ve taken a breather, you can set a time to when you can talk about what you wanted to talk about in the next few hours.
As much as possible don’t let it reach days, because you don't want to keep avoiding having the conversation. BUT if it does get difficult to talk, you can always seek out a professional that can mediate your conversation to help you work through your differences.