People often avoid tough conversations as a way to avoid conflict. The problem is that avoiding difficult conversations simply leads to more conflict in the long run. You may momentarily avoid the unpleasant, but it will come back to bite you hard.
It is easiest for us to talk about things that happened in the past or that happened to someone else. It can be especially difficult to bring up a problem that has just occurred with the person who, in your view, has caused or contributed to the problem. It is so much more difficult to say Sherry, “I am upset with you right now.” than it is to say, “I was upset with you a few months ago.” It is also so much easier to talk about how either of you is upset with someone else. Hence the reason that many people talk about others rather than talking to them.
Even though it may be difficult, it is important for you to own your feelings and take responsibility for being honest with your partner. If you want to have a meaningful relationships, it is necessary to find your courage and have the tough conversations.
The following are some tips to help you make the most of difficult situations:
1. Remember that avoiding the problem just creates more problems. You are not keeping anyone happy, least of all yourself.
2. Honesty is the best policy. When you are not honest with your partner about what you have done or what you are feeling you create distance between the two of you. Accept responsibility for your part in the problem and for your thoughts and feelings. Avoid blaming.
3. Remember, all feedback is good. Even if you are not happy with your partner, it is better to be gentle and honest. You cannot solve problems that you do not acknowledge. Be willing to listen to your partner's side as well as sharing your own.
4. It is okay to agree to disagree. You do not have to convince your partner that you are right. Share how you feel and allow them to have their own opinions and feelings. You are looking for solutions, not victory.
5. Watch your timing. Trying to have a tough conversation when one or both of you is under time constraints or overtired will likely not end well. Setting up a time that is convenient for both of you will get the best results.
6. Talk face-to-face. Whenever possible have tough conversations in person, definitely not via text.