Having Difficult Conversations: 8 Things to Keep in Mind

Having Difficult Conversations: 8 Things to Keep in Mind

It can be very stressful to know that there is something you want to talk to your partner about that could be difficult. Many couples avoid having difficult conversations because they are afraid of the conflict that can arise from a difference of options. Avoiding these conversations tear down a relationship in the long run. The most unhappy couples are those that don’t fight at all, but they also tend to not talk about things. Take a deep breath before you start the conversation and spend some time remembering the following things, it can make the conversation more successful:

1.  Difficult feelings will arise, that doesn’t mean you failed. Sometimes the most valuable discussions are filled with challenging emotions. As long as there isn’t name calling, blaming, or screaming the topic is being worked through.

2. Remember that a difference of option doesn’t mean it’s a fight. Many times people feel like the person has to think about the topic the same way they do or they aren’t being heard. This isn’t true; you can still get your needs met even if you disagree on things.

3. There’s a strong chance that even once you agree to something you will still disagree about something else. Don’t think you are going to get your partner on your side 100%. In order to hear your partner and have a successful discussion, you need to emotionally let go of having your partner 100% on board.

4. You are you and your partner is themselves. Remembering that you are two different people is important. As soon as you start to feel ungrounded and lose track of your needs, the possibility of being triggered increases. The same is true for your partner. Give both of you the space needed to be an individual and to work through feelings.

5. Blaming, criticism, and withdrawing means it’s time for a break. Once these defenses enter the room its best to call them out and agree to take a break. These defenses make hearing and compromise impossible.

6. You are a team. Remember you are working together. That means using empathy with your partner and really trying to understand their side of the story. It doesn’t mean you have to agree, but it does mean that you stay in a place of wanting to understand them.

7. It takes time. If it’s a difficult conversation it’s a difficult issue. Difficult issues take time to sort out and can’t be solved in one discussion. Remember it’s a process of getting to know each other and compromise. Don’t expect things to be solved overnight.

8. Everyone makes their own choice to compromise, trust that. Once compromise starts to happen trust that your partner is thinking it through and making the decisions they need too. When guilt and distrust enter the picture compromise becomes more difficult. If you find it difficult to trust them talk it out. On the other side, make sure you are truly fine with your compromises so that your partner can trust you.

Talking to your partner about difficult topics can be extraordinarily stressful and hard. Be kind to yourself as you try to implement the above tips. It takes a lot of learning and courage to be vulnerable in a relationship and to make sure both people’s needs are met.




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