How to Have a Difficult Conversation – One thing I see time after time is women stuck in a position of not being heard, of needing to resolve an issue, to open up communication and to have a conversation they would rather not be having.
As the conversation is going to be difficult, it often feels best to avoid it, to communicate with shrugs, sighs, eye movements, hand gestures or anything that you feel is conveying the depths of your anguish. And then act surprised when the other person has not grasped what it is you are trying to say! Leading into a dialogue, which can often start with, “why don’t you understand me!” Inevitably this breaks down into a tit for tat communication, culminating into a full-blown argument. Yet the issue is still not resolved.
What I then hear is the complaints of how the other person is this, that or the next thing, closely followed by – oh but they are okay really. To which I always say I never thought there was anything wrong with the other person, but I am assuming there is something wrong with the situation. This is an important distinction.
We can work on the situation and resolve it without having to belittle the other person and get into an attack/defence conversation.
It helps if you can listen to the other person first, ask what is wrong and hear them out without judgement. This is hard as we want to get our point of view across and what it is that is bothering us, so it may feel very counter-intuitive to have the other person speak first. Yet, by listening to them speak you invite them to tell you what they feel is an issue and you may be surprised by what you hear. Be open.
Create your agenda about what you want to speak about before having the conversation. Keep it to the situation, not attacking the other person and the way they are. You can of course say the way you do this, or say that makes me feel this or I act in this way because of what you say or do. Our words and actions do have consequences for other people, which we often don’t see or want to realise. This is where an honest conversation can open up the cause and effect of our words and actions. Be open to how you make the other person feel and behave. Don’t take it personally but as a way to see how you could modify, change or adapt.
Once you have both spoken, see what both of you want from the situation and see what you can both give to the situation. If you are both moving towards the same goals, dreams and aspirations you will find a way to resolve the issue. If you find you are both moving in different directions then another conversation will be needed to see how you can go separate ways. Not easy but a willingness from both parties to engage in opening up honest dialogue about a situation makes it bearable.
If you are interested in finding out more about communication then I invite you to come on a Balance Your Life retreat or contact me for private coaching where I can guide you on how to communicate the pressing concerns in your life.