Difficult conversations; they’re not easy to have. But when done correctly, they can set you free, deepen or strengthen your connection with someone, and even repair a broken relationship.
What makes these type of conversations so difficult to have, is the great unknown they will inevitably put us in touch with…
How will the other person react when I tell them exactly what I think about them, or how they make me feel?
What if I get very upset, can’t control my emotions and say or do something I might later regret?
What if we open a can of worms, hurt each other’s feelings and hit a point of no return?
No wonder, so many of us avoid them like the plague!
When it comes to having a difficult conversation with someone you love, the problem most of us have is not knowing exactly how to go about it.
I mean, we don’t have good role models of what having this conversation looks like, feels like, and sounds like. And, I certainly don’t recall ever seeing a ‘Difficult Conversations 101’ class in my high school or college.
So how do you have one? How do have a difficult conversation with someone you love?
Here’s how to create a conscious, heart-centered conversation that will improve, heal and grow your most cherished relationships in 9 steps.
9 Steps to Having a Difficult Conversation with Someone you Love
1. Acknowledge your desire, need or longing
Take a moment to connect with your heart or the part of you that wants to have this conversation, by asking yourself “Why is having this conversation important and meaningful to me?”
2. Clarify your intention
Get clear about what is it that you’re truly wanting by having this conversation. Do you want to feel more connected to the other person? Get them to modify their behavior? Do you just want to share what’s in your heart with them? What is it you’re longing to experience by having this conversation?
3. Invite the other person
Say to them, “There’s something I would like to share with you. When do you think or feel would be a good time for us to have a conversation?” If they say no, do your best not to take it personally. Simply tell them, “Can I check back with you next week? Maybe you’ll be ready then? What I have to share is important.”
4. Set the context
Let the other person know what the conversation will be about and what it is you’re wanting by having this conversation. For example, “I value our relationship a lot, and I want to talk to you about what I’ve been feeling lately with regards to you.”
5. Hold a safe space for each other
Create an agreement to hold a safe space for each other by asking, “Can you listen to all that I have to say, without interrupting me, please? After I’m done sharing what I have to share, I’ll do the same for you if you feel like you want to reply.”
6. Get real with the other person
Avoid rehearsing the conversation beforehand and instead, take a deep breath into your heart and share what’s in it. Share what you truly think, feel, sense, want and long for. Lean into your edge by saying what you’re most afraid of saying, and asking for what you’re most afraid to ask for. If you get triggered, lose your calm, or go into fear, go back to breathing deeply into your heart. If possible, sit on the same side of the table, and just be fully present with the other person.
7. Seek connection above understanding
Stick to the facts, and how you felt about it. Say, “When ___ happened, I felt ___.” Let go of the need to be right. Take responsibility for what is yours and be willing to admit any faults or wrongdoings. Let go of the story you had told yourself about the situation, how this conversation would go, and be open to seeing things differently. Above all, seek to listen deeply, feel connected, and empathize with the other person.
8. Agree on a way forward
Determine what will be the next action step or steps you’ll each be taking. Don’t leave the conversation until you’re clear about what will happen next. Ask, “What agreement can we reach?” Be sure to follow through.
9. End with love and appreciation
Complete consciously by appreciating the other person, the qualities you admire in them, and the lessons you’re learning by being in a relationship with them. Thank them for their time, and for their willingness to listen and share their heart with you. Finally, remind them how much you love them, and what the relationship means to you.
That night, before you go to bed, take a moment to reflect on the conversation you had, and appreciate yourself for having loved yourself enough to courageously speak the truth of your heart.
Then, regardless of the outcome, give yourself permission to feel the lightness and freedom that comes from having opened your heart.
Feel free to leave your comments below.
Photo by Tao Heftiba