Having Tough Conversations With Those Close to You

Having Tough Conversations With Those Close to You (Getty Images)

While relationships with loved ones hold a special place in our hearts, no one is perfect, and we will make mistakes or be hurt by the mistakes of others.

Confronting someone you care about something that has upset you or a problem you are experiencing takes a lot of courage and knowing when the best time and place to have an uncomfortable conversation is only half of the difficulty.

The goal is to be able to communicate as effectively as possible, explaining how your feelings were hurt without deliberately hurting the other person. Here are some pointers to help you stay true to this.

Don’t talk about major issues over text.

Texting is the most common form of modern communication. However, sending a text message that expresses strong emotions is always risky because the recipient has no way of knowing the tone of your message — no matter how well they may know you.

In stressful situations like these, your loved one may interpret your sincere and honest paragraph as sarcastic or hurtful — or vice versa — and the last thing you want is for the situation to worsen due to unnecessary miscommunication.

Take the extra effort to have a phone call, video chat or an in-person conversation if you are willing and able to do so.

Fight the problem, not your loved one.

If you notice that frustrating back-and-forth arguments are taking place instead of productively reaching a resolution in this conversation, feel free to take a step back before saying something hurtful. 

It is critical to remember that you and your loved one are on the same team. There’s history, love and respect there. Instead of pointing fingers at each other to determine who is in the wrong, consider the situation as the two of you fighting the problem together. 

Working together to communicate and solve problems, as well as listening to one another’s points of view, will ultimately strengthen your friendship.

Be intentional with how you share your point of view.

One surefire way to sever ties with a friend is to show disrespect in how you deliver a message. Your words have power, so take the time you need to fully process what you want to share.

It’s easy to dismiss your own feelings in order to make the other person feel better, but remember that if you’re hurting, the other person deserves to know. It’s the point of the conversation, so use “I” statements to express your feelings and how you processed the situation rather than using “you” statements to place blame, shame, and disrespect.

Boundaries are always helpful, never hurtful.

If you require the other person to simply listen to you share your experience, make that clear before you begin your discussion. This is an example of a boundary in conflict resolution.

Another boundary can be allowing time and space between you and the other person after the conversation to pass without communication in order for both of you to process the shared exchange of thoughts and feelings.

Boundaries are beneficial because they can help strengthen the bond between you and your loved ones, even when there is conflict.

No matter how you decide to initiate a difficult conversation, it will always be a difficult conversation. Be patient and kind to yourself. 

This is when you will be able to fully embrace being uncomfortable temporarily so that your relationship can be safe from future issues stemming from the problem at hand down the road.

Trinity Alicia (she/her/hers) is a Boston-based journalist. Follow her on Twitter: @trinityaliciaa

Edited by NaTyshca Pickett

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