As they say: Keep your friends close ... and your (fr)enemies CLOSER.
It often doesn't take much looking to find a person or group of people we would rather not interact with. However, most of us are probably at points in our lives where avoiding, hiding, and pretending that a specific person does not exist can only last for so long.
It seems that sending people emails or texting has made many of us allergic to natural communication — after all, we were born with voice boxes for a reason. Unfortunately, there are people in our lives we could live without ever speaking to again.
Here's a few ways to break the ice and advocate for ourselves:
1. Keep it simple.
If there is someone you can't stand speaking to, the last thing you probably want to do is trust that person with the innermost details of your recent breakup or latest argument with your best friend.
Keep your talks superficial. Possible neutral topics can include anything like the weather, what you ate for breakfast, traffic, where you got your latest accessory, and who you hope might be on The Tonight Show. Whatever it is you decide to talk about, keep things simple and move on when you can.
2. Compliment them.
On something. Anything. Finding the best in the "worst" people can alleviate their defense mechanisms and catch them off guard so things aren't so weird.
The best salespeople know how to do this ... on our last trip to Las Vegas, I almost considered spending full price in a store full of garments I ALREADY had, simply because the salespeople were buttering me up and complimenting me on everything from my makeup to my sandals. It's hard to have a bad conversation when someone is appealing to your sense of pride.
3. Maintain the boundary.
Many times, difficult tasks (like speaking to someone who makes your skin crawl or your blood boil), are easier if you just put a cap on the time limit you're engaged in the conversation. Precluding a conversation with the following statements may save you time, headache, and embarrassment: "I know we're/you're really busy, but ..." or "I only have a few minutes, so I wanted to talk to you about _____".
Keeping things short and sweet will make things WAY more tolerable.
As a therapist, I help others put the reality of their issues "on the table", tackle them and deal with them. Many of the relationship problems we have as a culture are often due to us choosing the short-term alleviation of avoiding difficult confrontations or situations with people we simply can't stand.
Using these strategies to get through conversations we would rather avoid with people we would rather not exist can prove just how resilient and strong we really are, and even improve your relationship so it's even easier to deal with the next time.