How to Discuss the Tough Stuff
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Talk It Out1 of 11
By YourTango experts Samara Fabrick, Donald Goodman and Melodie Tucker
For many people, conversations that have to do with feelings or conflict can be difficult. Being vulnerable in itself 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 those tough talks with your partner.
Be Clear2 of 11
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.
Pick the Right Time3 of 11
In real estate the key is location, location, location. In communication it's timing, timing, timing. Be wise about 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.
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Mind Your Manners4 of 11
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.
Stay Positive5 of 11
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.
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Be Cool6 of 11
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.
Know Your Hot-Button Issues7 of 11
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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Pick Your Battles8 of 11
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?
Put Yourself in His or Her Place9 of 11
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.
Make It About You10 of 11
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.
Compromise11 of 11
If you 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.