There are ways to approach difficult conversations and succeed in doing so. Here is how.
Tonight, I am having a very difficult conversation with my man. I am dreading it. I am sitting here thinking about what to say and what he is going to say and how he could hate me by the end of it.
The life coach in me knows that while my concerns are real, there are many approaches that I can take that will allow us to have a successful conversation, one we will both walk away from in the best way possible.
Here are 5 ways to have a difficult conversation with your man:
1. Let go of assumptions.
As I sit here, thinking about what tonight is going to look like, I am visualizing all sorts of reactions from my man around what I am going to say. Some are calm, some are angry, some involve tears.
And they are all I can think about, more than the content of the talk. I just don’t know what will happen and it worries me.
But I have to let go of those projected outcomes. I have NO IDEA how he is going to react and to spend even one minute thinking about what they might be is a complete waste of time.
So I let them go and focus on the other approaches instead.
2. Choose a good time and place.
When my kids were little and I had to discuss something difficult with them, I always chose to do it in one of two places: in the car or during a walk.
I have found it very effective to have conversations with someone when side-by-side instead of face-to-face. I think that perhaps it makes each participant a little less vulnerable and gives them a moment more to react to a statement. The eyes can say so much, sometimes quickly, which can cause the conversation to devolve in some way.
I also always chose a time that is not stressful. Tonight, my man is coming over for dog therapy, pizza, TV, and some loving, his top 4 things in this world. He will be happy and then we will begin. Softly.
3. Don’t attack.
Your goal in this situation is to have an effective, difficult conversation. One that lands on its mark and has a satisfactory end result. To do this, it’s important not to attack.
My man is struggling with a few issues in his life. I will ask him if he is happy, on a scale of 1-10. Doing so will (gradually) get him to open up to me about his life. From there, I can ask him probing questions that will lead us to discuss how to get him through those issues.
I will not say "Why are you doing these stupid things over and over?" I can guarantee that the only thing that will do is shut him down. And make him leave.
Not the end goal.
4. Be sure to listen.
This is so important. You need to be very careful to listen to what you're hearing back from the person with whom you are talking. Not only could you get some valuable information but by letting them know that you are paying attention, you will be more likely to get the outcome that you seek.
Try reflective listening. Many people find it difficult but it really works. After they speak, say "I hear you saying that… and I get it."
Use words that will allow them to feel heard, validated, and empathized with. Often, all people want is to be heard. Not feeling so makes them angry and makes them shut down or storm off, which is not the end goal.
5. Know that everything is going to be all right.
I know this conversation tonight with my man seems as if it might be the end of the world but really, no matter what, it’s all going to be okay.
I always tell my clients to consider "What is the worst that can happen?"
For me, I know that the worse that could happen would be the death of my child — that I don’t think I could survive. But you know what? I probably could. Regardless, that won’t happen tonight, because of this conversation.
So, yes, a conversation might bring about pain and discomfort and maybe even produce some short or long term effects but really, everyone is going to be okay.
As I have mentioned before, pain is a part of the growing process. This conversation will be part of the growing process.
And growing is the end goal.
So there you go. These are my 5 ways to have a difficult conversation with my man.
I am definitely nervous about tonight’s conversation. The topic is a difficult one but the conversation is necessary. Now that I am done worrying about possible outcomes, I have my list of things I want to address and am going to do so carefully and with love.
And while there might be some tears and discomfort, I know that, really, everything is going to be okay. We will still love each other and that life will go on.