Written by Telana Simpson
If we change the type of conversations we have, could we thereby change our world?
I believe so.
If we are open to have more of the type of conversations that are full of meaning and purpose, these have the power to shift things in a forward direction, serving by helping us and others to grow.
I call these conversations, the ones that count.
Conversations that Count
Yet these types of conversations seem rare, especially in today’s social media 140-characters-at-a-time world. And to have these, especially the more challenging ones, requires that we develop some inner strength and bring some skills to the exchange.
The conversations that count include the ones that we find easier, because they excite and engage us, keeping us up late at night when we find the right mix of minds and ambience.
Meaningful conversations also include the ones that we fear. These take courage and a strong will to face, and often we have to struggle not only with the actual conversation and it’s complex emotions, but also our inner conflict of wanting to avoid the difficulty of the moment, and yet wishing to resolve what needs to be talked about.
These conversations require us to find our strength and be vulnerable, and include examples like telling someone we love them, or are ending the relationship; or having to set a boundary, or break one down. Sometimes even it’s just about asking for help and guidance.
Here are six points to keep in mind that apply to all difficult conversations, that I have found to be the starting place, before you even approach the topic of discussion with another.
Some points that apply to all difficult conversations:
How do you think or feel about conflict?
Before you even think of starting a difficult conversation with someone, make sure you have some positive frames of mind about what it means to you, and about confrontation in general.
Where ever there is relationship, there will be conflict and that does not mean that conflict is a bad thing. Confronting someone just means coming face-to-face with the person and the issue, and thus it can feel startling or take someone by surprise. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be positive.
Positive confrontation is a high level communication skill that can be developed, and has many benefits once you move past your fears of conflict and the uncomfortableness difficult conversations present.
Put down your boxing gloves
Remember that confronting someone is not judging them, making them wrong or trying to win a battle or beat them down. It’s airing your view and asking about theirs, to find a solution and way forward.
Preparation beforehand is so important. Be clear on what you want to achieve by having the difficult conversation, and let the other person know your good intentions and that the aim is to make things better and grow.
Time-outs are OK
Give yourself permission to have time-outs when needed. If at any point during the conversation things get too heated for the person you are confronting or for yourself, then slow down, share your emotions or ask how the person is feeling. This puts the relationship above the issue, and shows you value them.
Suggest taking a short break, and then continuing when you both feel ready to. Also affirm your intention that you are bringing this up- no matter how hard it is- in order to resolve it and make things better for both of you. Ask how that person would like to proceed to meet that objective, and thus you include them in the problem solving process.
When explaining your point of view, use “I…” statements, and not “You…” ones. Instead of saying “you hurt me when you don’t call” or “you are inconsiderate because you never call”, rather phrase it as “I feel hurt when you don’t call” or “I feel that my needs are not being considered when you don’t call”.
This keeps you in your empowered space, as you then own your own emotions, and are not in the victim and blaming space of pointing fingers. It makes it easier for the other person to hear as well, as they feel less under attack.
Stop all assumptions and ask
Acknowledge to yourself and the other person what you are assuming.
We think we understand what the other person intended or meant, yet if we are honest and understand how our mind-filters and conditioning affect our ability to perceive others and the world, we can own the fallibility and bias that is often playing out.
So wherever possible, ask questions to clarify facts and check your point of view rather than accuse, judge or blame.
With these points in mind, I hope you are more able to have more conversations that count!
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About the Author:
Telana is a dynamic, transformational Personal Coach and Blogger who specializes in communicating and relating. She helps people have no regrets in life by having conversations that count. Follow her on Twitter or her podcast show, Let’s Talk Communication.