10 Tips For Talking About The Tough Stuff

couple having a serious discussion
Love, Self

For many people, ANY conversation that has to do with feelings and/or conflict can be a difficult conversation. Opening up and being vulnerable with anyone can be hard, but opening up the way you need to in a relationship can be even more challenging. Here are some tips for handling a tough conversation with your partner:

1. Get clear on what you want to say. It is imperative that before you start a difficult conversation with your spouse, mate, or date that you yourself are clear about what it is you want to communicate. One of the biggest pitfalls in communication is not sending a clear message, and your message will be clearer if you have thought through what you would like to say in advance.

2. Pick the right time. In real estate, the key is location, location, location. In communication, it's timing, timing, timing. Be wise when you bring up a difficult topic. First thing in the morning, last thing at night, and just as your partner walks in the door after a long day at work are NOT good times to start a dialogue.

3. Mind your manners. Conversations generally end in the same tone in which they begin. If you begin a talk angry and yelling, chances are you will leave the conversation screaming and upset. Go into it with the intention and expectation of getting through the issue, and be mindful of your manner and tone.

4. Stay positive. Expressing positive feelings during a difficult conversation helps both of you feel better during and after the talk. Infuse your conversation with caring, affection, and appreciation. Remember that the goal of communication is to be listened to and understood.
Samara Fabrick, Counselor/Therapist

5. Stay cool. Successful communication is primarily based on reason, not emotion. When one or both partners is extremely upset, reason goes out the window. Never bring up difficult conversations when something has just triggered heated emotions. Instead, wait until you and your partner are both cool and calm before bringing up a touchy topic.

6. Know your hot-button issues. All couples should be aware of difficult topics that exist in the relationship. This will allow you to be cautious when the topics arise.

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7. Pick your battles. Ask yourself if anything productive can come out of the discussion. Is the discussion likely to change the situation that is causing problems or is there a different solution that would better serve you both?
Donald Goodman, Counselor/Therapist

8. Put yourself in his or her shoes. In preparing for a difficult conversation, first, try "walking a mile" in your partner's shoes. This will help you keep perspective and remember you're both on the same team.

9. Make it about you. Use "I" statements, rather than "you" to keep your partner listening rather than on the defensive. Saying "I believe, I feel, I want" is much more likely to keep their attention than saying "you should, You don't, You are." Keeping your tone of voice and attitude neutral-to-positive rather than demanding gives you the best shot of having your requests granted. Make sure to maintain eye contact and keep your body language open, too.

10. Remember to compromise. If your partner isn't able or willing to accommodate all of your requests, be happy to compromise. Recognize that even small steps are progress and you can continue to negotiate for what you want as time goes by. Also, be willing to hear your partner's requests and do your best to fulfill them as well. How To Make Him Listen
Melodie Tucker, Life Coach