Having Tough Conversations During Extreme Times
There are very tough and challenging conversations happening all over the planet at this very moment. It’s my goal to assist you in lessening the difficulties in having these conversations. Some of you have children at home due to school closings. Others may live alone and have no one to count on but themselves. Some are forced to go to work, whether they want to or not, while others have been banned from work. All these situations are challenging, and each comes with its own unique problems. Regardless of age or circumstances, many are actively disengaged and shut down to having meaningful discussions. I can only imagine what some of you are going through. Having patience and compassion with one another during these times can be challenging. We’re all under stress.
How do you convince your children (who think they are invincible) to stay safe? How do you speak to your partner about maintaining safety measures that may separate you in your own home? How do you explain to a small child that their favorite food isn’t going to be available for some time? And how do you stay calm when strangers are bad-mannered in public? Here are some strategies for having those difficult conversations:
- Before you begin any conversation, be clear on your end goal. Knowing what you want to accomplish will help you get there.
- Avoid starting sentences with the word, “you.” Instead, use, “I.” For example, as opposed to saying, “You make me feel…,” say something more like, “When that happens, I feel…” The word, “you” often sounds accusatory, and that’s never good.
- When opinions differ, ask the other person why they feel the way they do. Continue to ask empowering questions such as, “Why do you feel that way?” “What do you think will happen after that?” Often, when a person’s opinion is challenged with great questions, it will stimulate their thinking, and they will naturally uncover the flaws in their theory. Or, they will validate their point of view and you will have a clearer sense of their position.
- Allow the other person to ask questions as well. Too often, we think we are being clear while the other person doesn’t have all the facts.
- Make sure your defenses are down and do your best to bring down theirs. We often mirror one another in conversations making it easy to meet anger with hostility. When we manage to stay calm and acknowledge the other person, it can soothe the situation. Most people want to be acknowledged for their feelings. An effective way to calm the situation is by saying something such as, “I can see you’re upset. Let’s sit down and talk about it.” A little empathy can open the door to productive communication.
- Suggest a compromise. See if there is a middle ground. Ask, “How can we meet in the middle?” or, “How can we compromise?” This simple approach can immediately halt a tense conversation.
- Manage your emotions, tone of voice, and language. Do your best to avoid escalating an already tense situation.
- When possible, if an impasse exists, suggest a break and readdress the situation after both parties have a chance to rethink their position.
None of us know what will happen next or how long these times will last. We must maintain the community we have and be open to building new ones. Life, as we know it, is forever changed. Because of this, everyone is feeling the stress.
For more information about coping with COVID19, follow these links:
Watch Gregg Braden on YouTube – Truth and Fiction Coronavirus