You love your partner, but sooner or later, a tough conversation needs to happen. While this is normal, (after all, what relationship doesn’t have its bumps along the way) how you handle those conversations will determine whether you come away from this particular conflict with a stronger appreciation for each other. This is why it’s so important to handle difficult conversations well.
How do you ensure you engage in the best conversation possible in these circumstances?
Start with Not Putting Off the Talk Longer than Necessary
Take time to count to ten or to take a few deep breaths before beginning. After all, starting with too much emotion will be more damaging than helpful. Once you’re cooled down though, it’s time to talk. Why is it better sooner rather than later? By putting things off, you tend to build up resentment and inflate the conflict. It’s important to address situations before they get out of hand. A small problem today is much easier to solve than a giant one several weeks from now.
Drop the Good News / Bad News Approach
No one likes waiting for the other shoe to drop, so instead of giving the compliment with a ‘but’ lurking to negate everything you’ve just said, just come out and say the bad news first. If you’re determined to add in the compliment, do so after the bad stuff is out of the way, so you leave the person on a more positive note.
Plan Your Conversation
Rather than blindside your partner with an uncomfortable discussion, let them know you have something you want to talk about. Make it clear you’re wanting to discuss something that affects your feelings, rather than starting out in an attack. There’s a vast difference between, “I’d like to talk to you sometime about your drinking” vs. “I’d like to talk to you about how I feel when I see you drinking so heavily.”
What Are Your Goals?
In any heavy conversation, you need to agree at some point on common goals. Working toward the same thing will help you find your way through the conversation to that eventual place.
Keep a Positive Spirit
Aim for optimism. Even if the conversation isn’t going how you would like it to, finding something to hope for will soften the outcome no matter what.
Difficult conversations are just that: Difficult. But having a plan in place will help you to get through them. Use these steps to build the framework of your conversation, and even if the outcome is bad, getting there won’t be as difficult as you think.
How To Communicate More Clearly
Communication is the foundation of everything we do. Whether you leave the house or not, you still communicate with others daily, be it online or in person. How well you get along with people hinges on how well you communicate. How successful you are in life hinges on how well you communicate. There are a few ‘rules’ that you can apply to all of your communications.
This is specifically for work or professional communication. Often, we waste a lot of time and energy communicating when we don’t know why we’re bothering. So, think about what you would like to accomplish?
This can also be applied to your personal life, even idle chit-chat can have some type of purpose, whether it’s bonding or getting to know someone.
When others initiate a conversation, consider why it’s taking place. If you can’t understand why try to gently guide the dialogue to determine the why. The purpose of this is to focus and understand why to avoid rabbit trails and side issues that detract from the manner at hand.
Have you ever fallen out with someone over text message? Or watched a fight unfold on social media because one person read someone else’s tone wrong? If you’re dealing with a highly emotional issue, then it should be addressed in person. If it’s impossible to do so in-person, at least do so via video call. This goes for positive and negative emotions. If you’re delivering great news then you want everyone to get sucked into your positive energy.
As far as bad news or negative conversations go, it will be received better if you do the job in-person.
People often lose concentration when they are being given facts and figures verbally. If you’re dealing with a finance issue, statistics, or otherwise, opt for emailing this information so the other person can easily look back on the numbers when necessary.
No Talking, Just Listen
This applies to in-person communication. Stop spending so much time doing all the talking and start listening. Unless you are the one who came to the table to start a conversation, give others the respect they’re due when they are trying to communicate their ideas or feelings. Don’t dominate conversations with your motor-mouth.
We live in a society of information overload so simplify your messages. You might use five sentences, but you can probably say it with one.
Assertiveness for Better Communication
Learning to communicate effectively means that you must first learn how to be assertive. The other options of communicating are passiveness or aggressiveness – both of which tend to alienate those you’re trying to communicate with.
When you learn to communicate effectively by flexing your assertive muscles, you’ll experience a boost of self-esteem and personal confidence which will help you succeed in all areas of your life.
You’ll learn to be less resentful or feel inadequate or guilty about your decisions and will experience more freedom in your life. But, most of all – the way you communicate will improve your relationships, both at work and home.
Assertiveness means that you’re able to express your thoughts and feelings without anger and appropriately and honestly. You’ll be standing up for your rights as a thinking and valuable individual and others won’t be confused about your beliefs and opinions.
Some techniques you should learn to become a more effective communicator are:
- Broken Record – This technique that you persist in expressing what you want and how you feel without bringing anger and resentment into your tone of voice. The trick is to remain calm and express your wants very clearly. Then, keep repeating your point and don’t give up unless you decide to agree to a compromise.
- Fogging – A technique that involves not responding in an anticipated manner (defensive or placating). The method is one that gives a minimal response within a conversation – rather than being argumentative. When you’re not expressing the desired effect with the person, he or she will tire of the conversation.
- Handling Positive and Negative Comments – You may have trouble responding to compliments – or responding to negative comments about you or something you’ve done. For positive comments, you should express your assertiveness by thanking the person and for negative criticism, you should express regret that the person feels that way and then ask what, in particular, do they have a problem with.
As you continue to practice your assertiveness with others, you’ll find that your skills of communication will increase and you’ll have fewer problems dealing with people.
You may find methods of your own which work – like not engaging a person in arguments or being able to walk away from a bullying situation calmly and without being angry.
Developing interpersonal skills is a self-confidence booster that can help you with day to day communication with those who are close to you and those you may need to deal with on a one-time basis.