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How To Tackle A Difficult Conversation

With difficult times come difficult conversations that can happen anytime, anyplace and with anyone from spouses, co-workers, and your children. Even in the best of times trying to hammer out differences at work, concerns with a partner, or answering your child’s questions about what is happening around them is never easy.

There are a few things however, you can be mindful of to prepare before you step into those conversations and we will break them down for you concerning various life situations.

We have all been there. Maybe something is not running smoothly at work and needs to be addressed to make things better for everyone. These are hard conversations to have because you do not necessarily have a close relationship with the person you are addressing which can lead to awkwardness and misunderstanding if not properly handled. Be direct about what you need to talk about and plan out the conversation before you enter it. The message you may be trying to send can get muddled by too many niceties. It will also be important for you to be empathetic during these conversations and offer solutions. Allowing the person you are addressing to have time to speak and ask questions can go a long way to a peaceful resolution.

At home with a partner involves a bit of a different strategy due to familiarity. Choosing the right time to talk about whatever needs to be addressed might be the most important thing you can do in order ensure the conversation is healthy. Jumping your partner at the door with complaints after work may not be received well and understandably so. In this case it actually is helpful to throw some small talk in and express appreciation for your partner so the conversation does not feel like an attack, but on the same foot you will want to stay focused on one problem at a time so as to not get confused. Make sure you are in a headspace to be open-minded through this process. You need to be prepared to listen and try to find common ground with your partner’s views as well as your own. If you are having trouble finding a good resolution it is always ok to take a break, breathe and resume the conversation after things cool down.

When it comes to tackling difficult topics with your child best practice says to follow their lead. Keep it as simple as possible and only answer questions they are asking—by being too forthcoming with information you could run the risk of burdening them with more worries rather than easing them. Listening is going to be a huge component of communicating well with your child so you can convey empathy to what they are saying. Perhaps the most important thing you can do is not lie when addressing your child’s questions and concerns. Be honest with your answers because dishonesty here can cause more harm than good down the road.

Next time you’re having a difficult conversation, experiment with putting your focus on some of the things you can control. Yes, these take practice.

Our tip: Pick the one that feels the easiest or the hardest and practice it for the rest of the week with someone you care about at work or at home. Let us know how it goes!

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