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Tips for Tough Talks

PostedFebruary 22, 2018


Tips for Tough Talks

“We need to talk”… four tiny, inconspicuous words. However, when paired together, they produce such a powerful and nerve-inducing sentence, don’t you think?

Truth is, there are conversations you’d rather not have. Like the one about the credit card, or how you hardly ever have sex, or maybe you’ve told him/her a million times that you don’t like being teased in front of your family!

Let’s face it, difficult conversations rarely turn into easy ones. They’re uncomfortable and anxiety provoking at best. And yes, given the risks, you can probably come up with a thousand and one reasons to put it off.

Most of us are programmed to avoid interpersonal conflict but walking on eggshells and not talking about pressing issues when you need to have “must have” conversations, could harm your relationship. Remember, every relationship has its difficulties, it goes with the territory!  And, although you are a couple, you are still two distinct individuals with different histories, habits and preferences.

But, how do you handle thorny issues that are likely to develop into heated arguments?

We have a few strategies for when you need to have “The Talk”:

Recognise that avoidance won’t work. When “battles royale” become the norm rather than the exception, it is time to do something about it.

Timing, timing, timing. First thing in the morning or last thing at night after a long day, are not good times to start a dialogue. If it’s hard to find a suitable time, ask if the two of you could set aside a time to talk, and agree when that will be.

Stick to the topic at hand. Never use the “While we’re at it” mentality to bring up every indiscretion, relevant or otherwise.

Mind your manners. Conversations generally end in the same tone in which they begin. If you begin a talk angry and yelling, chances are that you’ll leave the conversation screaming and upset. Be mindful of your tone and manner and treat your partner with respect.

Soften the blow. Don’t sugar-coat things or treat the other person like a child but be kind. Don’t leave your partner feeling awful and embarrassed.

Avoid accusations. Avoid phrases like “you always” and “you make me”. These words will put your partner on the defence and make him/her feel attacked and uncooperative. Make use of “I” statements instead of “You”. Use tact and diplomacy to express your feelings in the least confrontational matter.

Be patient and listen to their response without interrupting.

Stay cool. Take time out if you need to. Recognise when your discussions reach a point where it is too heated to continue. Walk away and try again when you’re both calm.

Explore the solution. Demonstrate your commitment by offering what you are willing to do: “Would it help if I…?” or “Would you be willing to …?” This process will have a greater impact on your relationship than what you finally agree to do.

Know when to get help. If the situation continues to create problems, you may have the need for a counsellor.

You deserve to feel content in your relationship.

So, have the courage to start (and finish) difficult conversations in a healthy, strategic way. Good luck!



DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.