Elevating a Conversation

This is a topic that has been coming up a lot with my clients:  How do I have difficult conversations with friends or family?

Most of us don’t like confrontation and lack the skills to set healthy boundaries…especially with the people we are close to.  And, speaking up to have our needs met can feel awkward and triggering.

Yet, there are times when a topic needs to be discussed or a concern needs to be voiced.

So how do we approach these difficult situations without creating even more conflict?  By elevating them.

This is a highly effective way to handle difficult, uncomfortable, but necessary conversations.  

It starts with you saying you’d like to set aside a time to have a conversation about something that is important to you.  When you make this request, aim to be as neutral as possible.  You want to communicate without anger, frustration, or intending any blame.  It’s just a statement of truth:

“I would like for us to figure out a time when we can get together and talk about something that is important to me.”

Immediately, they will say, “What?  What is it?  Let’s talk now!”.  

Your response?  “No.  I’d rather set a specific time to talk about this.  How about next Monday ?” (etc)

They will want to talk right away so you must stay firm yet neutral in your desire. 

What happens next is your friend or family member will go into high gear thinking about what the topic could be.  They will be thinking about this right up until the day the you have the talk.  

Which is what makes this is an elevated conversation…you will have their FULL attention.  They will likely be a little nervous, maybe a little vulnerable, but they will absolutely be fully present for your talk.

And because you’ve set a date sometime in the future, you now have time to figure out how you want to present your issue.  And because YOU are the one who set this up, YOU are in charge of how to steer the conversation.  So, spend enough time in advance gaining clarity on what you will and won’t say.  

And when you do get together, I suggest trying to express yourself in a way that allows for them to hear you without being put on the defensive.  Give them the space to take it in and respond.

And, yes, it may be awkward.  However, this gives both of you the opportunity to talk and resolve the situation in a way that is potentially good for everyone.

This is highly effective in all situations but especially when dealing with family members.  Most of us are on autopilot when it comes to our responses with our family.  This approach interrupts the long formed triggers that can easily escalate situations.  It creates a new way of communicating without blame or resentments.

So, if you are feeling uncomfortable with something and need to have a conversation about it, elevate it.  Pick a date and time and stick to it.  Don’t give them any indication ahead of time of what you will be talking about.  And then, be as prepared and open as you can be when you do sit down and talk.

This is very challenging for a LOT of people.  If you need practice with setting boundaries or have a situation you need support with, please get in touch and we’ll figure it out together.