How to Have Hard Conversation with Loved Ones
Having to talk about difficult topics or problem areas in your life is difficult within itself. Talking to doctors or therapists, while helpful, is often times uncomfortable and can cause heightened stress or nervousness. This fear is often calmed with the comfort that these people are helping professionals whose job it is to assist with your problems and, ultimately, guide you to a solution.
For some, having hard conversations with the people that you love is just as hard or even more difficult than talking to strangers or professionals.
Why is it more difficult than discussing matters with others? Often, the key factor is fear. It is normal to fear not being understood, hurting the feelings of someone, disappointing another person, or even creating intimacy with others who have an impact on our lives.This fear can be amplified when applied to your friends or family.
In the spirit of having healthy boundaries and implementing effective means of self-care, it is impossible to be liked by everyone and have everyone agree with you on all matters. There is very little anyone can do to impact how another person will feel about you or treat you; however, by implementing practical measures, things can be easier when there are times of disagreements or discrepancies.
When a time arises that calls for said discussion, there are some techniques that will be helpful in navigating hard topics or uncomfortable discussions with people you care about.
Every conversation, particularly those where setting boundaries or correcting harmful patterns is concerned, will be more effective when you are practicing assertiveness. Communicating aggressively, passively, or passive-aggressively can distract from the purpose and intention of your conversation. Assertiveness means speaking in a kind, but firm manner, essentially reducing the risk of misunderstanding or feelings of being unheard.
You cannot address all the issues that are present in your life at once. It is absolutely impossible. That being said, sticking only with the subject that you want to discuss will be beneficial in decreasing stress and increasing efficiency in communication. It can be very easy to pull in other parts of your life, which creates ease in shifting the focus of the discussion away from the meat and potatoes.
Utilizing effective “I statements” is crucial during important conversations. This way of communicating your thoughts and feelings emphasizes your accountability and ownership in what you’re saying. When sentences begin with “you” or “why,” they can often be heard as at an attack and cause defensiveness. Being conscious and intentional in wording decreases the likelihood of misunderstanding.
If experiencing anxiety, practicing some internal dialogue and positive self-talk can help with self-soothing. Try thinking about what your goal is for this conversation, the reasons why you have chosen to have it, and how the results will align with where you want to be in the future. Congratulate yourself for doing something for the betterment of who you want to be.
Finally, remember to play your part and utilize listening skills. Your family wants to be heard just as much as you want to be.
Addressing problems areas or even bringing up topics that could trigger arguments can be difficult. Remember that, in this case, the people you’re talking to love you. Even if they do not agree or like what you have to say, reminding yourself of the connection you have is important. Keep your outlook positive!
Implementing these practices can significantly reduce miscommunication and aide in starting important conversations with your friends and family. (by Christian Brown)