Having a Hard Conversation: 7 Tips to Try
Hard conversations are, well, hard. Maybe you are avoiding one by waiting for another person to initiate because you don't want to ruin your relationship. Maybe you are avoiding one by convincing yourself that there's nothing to talk about and that issues will magically melt away soon enough. Most of the time, unfortunately, this isn't true. Most of the time, you need to have a difficult conversation.
7 Tips for Having a Difficult Conversation
Next time you get the itch to talk about something hard with someone you care about, try out some or all of the following tips:
- Let the other person or people know you need to have a difficult conversation. All parties will benefit when everyone comes emotionally prepared. Being caught off guard with a heavy topic can cause a reactionary, rather than rational, response. If setting a specific time and place is helpful, figure those details out together.
- Choose a mode of communication where all can be comfortable, straightforward, and honest. This could be a phone call, a lunch or dinner date, a hike, or something else. For a lot of people, texting can lead to miscommunication; for others, it's a more comfortable way to talk about the hard stuff. Make sure that all people involved agree on the best method to communicate.
- If you're extremely emotional, consider waiting until you cool down a bit. Having hard conversations when you're angry can lead to saying things you don't mean. Take some alone time and be deliberate about calming down. Things will be much smoother if you're emotionally stable.
- Take a deep breath after you hear something, and take another deep breath before you respond. Someone might share that you've hurt their feelings, and you may not have known. Even if you did come into the conversation calm and collected, hearing that could throw you off a bit. A deep breath can bring you back to balance. Another breath can help you quiet down enough to know how to respond.
- Use statements that begin with "I." Instead of saying, "You never want to spend time with me," say, "I feel hurt when you don't reach out for a few days." This keeps the focus on your feelings instead of the other's faults, which can keep the conversation flowing healthily.
- Ask questions out of curiosity, not condemnation. This can be tough, especially when you're full of emotions. However, when you ask genuine questions, you learn where another person is coming from, and you often discover a deeper issue. Two fantastic questions that work in all sorts of scenarios are, "Could you elaborate on that?" and, "What could I do better from now on?"
- Say a sincere apology. Apologies are a critical part of difficult conversations. An apology is not saying, "I'm sorry you feel that way." You must accept responsibility and be specific. An apology is saying, "I'm sorry that I forgot to come to your dance recital," "I'm sorry that I yelled at you," or "I'm sorry that I lied to you."
Hard Conversations Are Worth It
Initiating a difficult conversation is frightening, but you have to believe that your relationship will improve by talking (and it will). Some of the most fulfilling parts of life are the relationships you form with others, and taking the time to sort out issues is an invaluable choice.
Clawson, A. (2021, July 28). Having a Hard Conversation: 7 Tips to Try, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, March 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/mentalhealthforthedigitalgeneration/2021/7/having-a-hard-conversation-7-tips-to-try