I Dread Hard Conversations
Someone once said, “Good conversation is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after”. For many, good means neutral, fun and non-confrontational. These good conversations are great in neutral, fun and relationships outside your closest circle.
But in high value/priority relationships like those between husband & wife, parents & children, trusted & accountable friendship, these lighthearted conversations don’t matter too much.
In these high value/priority relationships, one of the muscles we need to develop as part of healthy communication is those hard conversations. You know, the ones we would rather not talk about? The ones we wish would somehow remain safely tucked under the rug, out of sight. Those “issues” we wish would magically take care of itself and disappear? Those conversations about a habit you are getting tired of, or that “guy” who your daughter is talking about a little too much. Or it might maybe about family priorities, finances, in-laws. You know, those conversations we love to ignore?
In our attempt to keep the peace in these important relationships, many of us ignore “issues”. We would rather not have hard conversations so that we do not rock the boat. We would rather not deal with an additional issue.
But here’s the reality:
- Ignoring the hard conversations does not mean the issues don’t exist
- Seeking current peace, we risk allowing things to blow up out of control in the future
- Preventive conversations are always better than curative conversations. In hindsight, they are actually easier as well
If healthy communication is part of a healthy relationship, then these hard conversations also need to be part of our communication.
Here are some practical pointers I’m learning as part building healthy high value/priority relationship in my personal life.
- Bring up the issue only when you have the best interest of the other person and the common good of the relationship. Don’t bring things up just to satisfy your personal ego or gain, trying to prove yourself right and above the other person
- Take equal responsibility in the issue. Remember, it takes two to tango, you communicate eagerness carrying the weight together
- In your conversations, tackle the issue, not the person. Do not use words to attack or demean the other person
- Do everything with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace
- Pick a good moment for your conversations. Don’t bring up things the other person is already stressed or tired. Right conversation at the wrong time becomes a terrible conversation
- Affirm the person and your relationship, Confront the issue, Encourage the other looking at a bright future and express how grateful you are to be in this together
So in conclusion, having hard conversations isn’t a sign of an immature, difficult relationship. But failing to deal with it appropriately is. So be secure enough in the relationship to engage in those hard conversations you know you would rather not have. At the end would be a resolution and a stronger marriage.