Tips to Strengthen Your Communication - Having Difficult Conversations
The impact of the pandemic has left many of us coping with new dynamics at home, especially where our relationships are concerned. I know for me and my husband there was a bit of a strain in the beginning and it wasn't easy moving through it all when there was so much more going on in the world to process.
My husband has always traveled back and forth to Europe since I've known him (16 years) so I was very used to being at home alone for weeks at a time, sometimes months. Once the pandemic hit us and the lock downs were in place, we found ourselves at home together (thankfully!) 24/7 since. It wasn't easy to find our new balance at home but just like everyone else, we worked through it after many arguments and frustrations. It was definitely a learning process and one that made us even stronger and happier.
Whether it's your marriage or a friendship that's strained here are some ways that can help you strengthen your communication skills;
Acknowledge the Issue and be Compassionate
Knowing what the real problem is and acknowledging your responsibility around it can be difficult especially when you're tired and frustrated. Try and take the time to settle into a peaceful mind and look at the issue from a clearer and gentle angle. Make sure that the problem/issue is clear to all concerned that it's not something created out of emotions. See it from their perspective, as well, and empathize with how they are seeing things. Be compassionate to yourself and the other person(s) and you will be able to see things more clearly and express yourself in a more effective way.
Plan a date and time that you both can sit down and talk about the issue. Being in a rushed situation or not having the ability to think clearly can strain the conversation and bring things to an unnecessary outcome. So allowing yourself, and the other person, to calm down and release any hurt or anger will give you both time to think about what you 'really' want to say. When you do sit down together make sure there are no distractions, so set your phone to silent and put it away! Do whatever else you need to do to obtain some peace and quiet for at least an hour (unless of course you need less or more time). In addition, I highly suggest that you don't meet over mimosas or a glass of wine for obvious reasons. Keep it a safe and clear atmosphere!
Before your conversation begins I encourage you to set good intentions for the conversation. Let each other know that you're both there because you love each other and that your relationship/friendship matters. Things might come up that are hard to hear so it's important to express that whatever is said is merely the truth and that it's not meant to hurt or disappoint either of you. Doing this before you discuss a difficult subject can help to ease the mind and start the conversation off with some respect and love.
By practicing these few ideas whenever having difficult conversations can really guide all involved through with an easier more mindful process. I encourage you to try it the next time you need to sit down with someone, whether they are your spouse, friend, employee or colleague. I'm sure the other person will respect and admire your efforts in creating a comfortable and safe space for discussion. In turn, you might be amazed how easy it flows and how more quickly you can resolve the situation.
I'll leave you with these last two last tips before starting a difficult conversation...
DO SOME DEEP BREATHING AND LET GO OF ANY EXPECTATIONS!
Go and speak your truth, my friend :)
Here are some great references, that have helped me as well, to learn more on improving conversation skills: