Who enjoys hard conversations? Some might look at them as a challenge or a way to a resolution, but many dread them and avoid them at all costs. Most of us are in between – we don’t love them but we do them, eventually, because the elephants get too big to ignore. The resulting peace we feel after having them is usually worth the worrying and uncomfortableness.
Fortunately, most hard conversations only need to happen once. But, what do we do when we need to keep having hard conversations around the same topics? Shouldn’t we be able to have a hard conversation once and then move on? If we have to keep talking about it, does it mean we suck at resolution skills? No, it means we care enough to keep working on the relationship(s) in which the hard conversations are occurring.
Hard conversations require: Practice, A Safe Space, Honesty, and an Open Mind
My husband and I frequently have different versions of the same hard conversation. We do this because our relationship is important to us and we know that if our marriage is to be successful, we need to keep talking. I used to have to drag stuff out of my husband when I knew something was bothering him but because we practice having hard conversations, he’s more willing now to address things with me when he’s bothered about something.
Hard conversations require a space of safety. This can be a literal and/or figurative safe space. When one person doesn’t feel safe, it ceases to be a conversation and instead becomes an environment for defensiveness and hurt feelings. Creating a safe space includes using “I” phrases instead of “you” phrases. “I” phrases also help us take accountability for our part of the situation/conversation.
Honesty is imperative but it must be administered in a kind and loving way. Not every conversation is the right time or place to say everything you have to say. Sometimes the honesty needs to come at a different time in a different conversation, and administered in small doses. This isn’t to imply that it’s okay to administer dishonesty in the meantime, it means there is a time and place to lay it all out. I think most of us are mature enough to listen to our gut and recognize when the moment is right. The important thing is that, ultimately, there is honesty.
Keeping an open mind will help generate new ideas and solutions. Some ideas may be fails, some ideas may work for a while and then not work, and some ideas might be magic and that particular issue is resolved. One thing is certain, if we don’t make efforts to find solutions then we will never have resolutions.
Are you ready for the peace that comes after hard conversations?
Remember the 4 keys: practice, a safe space, honesty, and an open mind.
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