5 tips on how to have a difficult conversation - with awareness

 

Do you need to talk to your partner about an issue - but you're avoiding the difficult conversation? Here are 5 ideas on how to reduce the risk of things escalating into an argument. I'm Nicola Foster. I'm a couples therapist and these are my top tips for an aware, kind, difficult conversation.
 

1. Ensure you're both resourced

 
Don't try and have the conversation when you're tired, hungry, or short of time. Look for a time when you both agree that you are available and feeling resourced enough to talk.
 

2. Agree your timeframe

 
Talk about how long you have for the conversation. Make an agreement about when you will stop, even if you haven't reached any conclusions.  Make a plan for after your conversation to support reconnection. Agree a safe word that you can use if you're concerned about getting overwhelmed. Take a 10 minute break to ground yourself. Take a walking outside if you can, or have a hot drink and read or watch something light. 
 

3. Start with the end in mind

 
One of the habits in the classic book 7 Habits of Highly Successful people is to start with the end in mind. That matters here. How do you want this conversation to go? What kind of connection do you want with your partner afterwards? If you want to make progress with this issue and be kind to your partner - remember to consider the impact of your words.
 

4. Make them feel heard

 
The biggest mistake most of us make in conversations is thinking about what we are going to say next. Or getting lost in how our partner's words have impacted us - rather than listening to what they are saying.
 
It helps slow down the conversation and listen carefully to what they are saying. Get in the habit  of repeating back important pieces of information and saying "This is what I heard, did I get that right?". Let them correct you if you misheard. This one shift will radically change your conversations!
 

5. Remember that you love this person

 
Before you begin remember that you love this person and you are in relationship with them. Recall your past together and happy memories. Open your heart to WHY they are how they are and what you know about thier past. Your heart connection can stop a difficult conversation turning into an argument. It could even transform into a deepening of trust and mutual understanding.
 

Why does any of this matter?

 
I think of a relationship being bit like a ship on the ocean. A big, nasty, unkind argument can cause a hole in the hull of the boat. The boat can continue to sail if the holes are fixed. But too many holes without any attention and the ship becomes unseaworthy.
 
Wishing you many kind, conscious and aware conversations about difficult subjects.
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