Posts Tagged: conversation

How to Have that Difficult Conversation: Part 1

Are you avoiding a difficult conversation? Maybe you are afraid of an explosive reaction, or of being minimized or turned down. It is normal to have disagreements and hurt feelings in close relationships. Even the strongest relationships must address painful issues. Difficult subject matter like hurt feelings, broken promises, or dishonest dealings have the potential to ruin a relationship. But skillful communication can help a couple face the difficulty together.

The next two blog posts, I will give you a template on how to have a difficult conversation. I want you to have the SECRET WEAPON to trans-formative conflict resolution so that all your relationships, whether at home, work or school, can benefit.

When you have to set a boundary, challenge a behavior, or get more information in the relationship, you may stress about how to do it with the least amount of discomfort to both parties. If you are in a strong and mutually respectful relationship, this tips and skills may be hard, but doable with practice. If you are in a rocky relationship, these skills are still helpful, although, you may get disappointing results from the other party.

  • The truth can hurt. The honest truth, when presented with love and respect can hurt a little, but it should never harm. Like a flu shot that stings and leaves your arm sore for a day- it hurts, but is protecting you from something much more painful and giving you a gift of immunity. No matter how loving you present the truth during a difficult conversation, it may sting for the other person to hear it. Your goal is to be thoughtful, gentle, and firm.
  • Wait until you’re ready. If you think the conversation could turn volatile, make sure you prepare yourself for the worst case scenario. Take some time to think, journal, pray and research your topic. Pay attention to how you feel, and what you need. Maybe you need a third party to be with you, maybe you need to drive your own “get away” car. Maybe you want to talk by telephone only. Wait until you have these details worked out.
  • Know what you want. It’s one thing to complain about what hurt you, and it’s quite another to identify and verbalize what you need instead. This takes some thought, practice and bravery. Think about what it is that you really want, what would make a difference to you, and why it matters.
  • Find a Good Place and Time. Think about the venue that would make you most comfortable and provide you the most support. Maybe you want to have it over coffee in a public café, or in a private office away from others. Maybe you want to have it when the kids are at grandma’s house. The place and time doesn’t have to be perfect, but preparation is very helpful.
  • Think about your own contribution. It’s good to take a look at your role in the situation and see how you contributed to the break down in communication or unhealthy dynamic. Be able to verbalize that in a way that honors both of you. Something like, “I handled our conversation poorly the last time we talked, and I want another chance to resolve this,” or “I see that I avoid conflict sometimes, and this time, I want us to solve this together.”

Once you have thought about 1) the truth of the situation, 2) what you need and what you want, 3) place and time, you’ll be ready for the next blog post that will tell you the HOW. There is a specific communication formula used to help partners/friends/spouses communicate through difficult situations with the best possible results. See you next week!




How to Feel Closer: Part II

Last week, we talked about feeling far away and cut off from the people you love. We talked about losing out on truly knowing your partner, and he/she truly knowing  you. We talked about how most people fear intimacy and unconsciously build a wall against it because intimacy makes us feel vulnerable and exposed.

Well, today we will explore the three things LOSERS (those who LOSE OUT on truly knowing each other) must do to become LOVERS instead.

Couples who find themselves Losing Out on each other are in the PRIME POSITION for their next INTIMACY BREAKTHROUGH. Instead of thinking of your relationship as irreparably broken, think of it as a PERFECT OPPORTUNITY to GROW into something better than you imagined.

Why? Because I see Intimacy Breakthroughs every day. They happen. And You can Make them happen in your relationships too.

Here are three things that will help you get the INTIMACY that you miss with your partner.

1. Have “THE” Conversation. A lot of times, we neglect having the really important conversations with each other because we are afraid they will turn out badly. We think that bringing up difficult material or painful feelings will push the other person further away. However, if you are thoughtful and skilled with HOW you talk with your partner, you will be surprised at how well THE conversation can go.

Choose a time when neither is upset or tired. Use the ABC method of asking for what you need. Don’t use the words, “You need to,” or “You always/never,” or “You shouldn’t.” Instead, use words like, “I feel,” or “I want,” or “I need.” Remind yourself and your partner of your relationship strengths, his/her positive attributes, and why you loved him/her in the first place. Show empathy and teach your partner how to show empathy toward you. If you try these steps and they don’t go well, then invite a third party to help facilitate the conversation. The best and the brightest people I know ask for help when they need it.

2. Breaking Down Walls: Sometimes years of bitterness have built up because of past unresolved hurts. It is important to approach your partner with a commitment to own your contribution to the past problems. Take responsibility for lacking sensitivity, discouraging words or being overly avoidant/reactive. You may believe that your partner has more blame than you do. You might even be right. However, being right is not the goal- being close is. Make the first step toward closeness by apologizing for your part in the relationship coldness.

I know apologizing is hard to do, especially when you feel like the other person is more to blame. But saying you’re sorry can be the first step in breaking down defenses and warming up to each other again. It’s ok if you are the person to make the first step TOWARD your partner.  Let God help you.

3. Getting back some US time. Before the flames of intimacy heat up, you’ll need to practice alone time together. Making a habit of spending quality time together may not come easy. Pressures and life’s responsibilities can crowd out needed couples time. Do what it takes to carve this time out weekly or every other week. 

When Sweet and Sassy were young, Mr. Dashing and I would put them to bed early on Wednesdays, and have in-house date night. The hit series, LOST came on at 8, and we usually built a fire, poured some wine and toasted to “Alone Time.” It wasn’t a big thing, but it was OUR thing. Now that our kids are older, we try to get away on Saturday mornings while they sleep in. We don’t tell them that we go to their favorite diner for breakfast… without them. Shoot, they are still asleep by the time we get back!

From You Version Bible App. So cool- download- you'll love these pics.

From You Version Bible App. So cool- download- you’ll love these pics.

Whether it’s your spouse or friend or son, chose a relationship to start working on. Carve out a little one on one time where you can reconnect and make one another feel special.

You are important. Your relationships are important, too. You are worth the extra time and effort it takes to strengthen your relationship muscles. Let me know how it goes!

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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