8 Steps to the Art of Hard Conversations
Dear Women of Earth!
Once again, I am coming to you with a desire to inform my daughter in understanding men — and letting you in on the secrets to dealing with everyone’s favorite inferior gender, MEN!
I want to introduce some proven ideas to help women better communicate to get what they want from their guy (and not in a manipulative way), with the goal of having a satisfying, long term relationship.
In the business world, talk maybe cheap, but in a real love relationship it is absolutely critical. And when done effectively, it bridges the painful gaps between the genders to create harmonious fluidity and love! Let’s get started shall we?
There are two kinds of conversations. First the easy kind, “Do you want to get a pizza?” We (guys) love pizza. We all get hungry. No struggle. No nagging fear. Pizza? Yes or no. Easy!
Having Hard Conversations
Then, there are topics that bring heart-pounding fear, panic, uncertainty, and instability. He might have hurt your feelings. You saw a red flag. You need to tell him something from your past. You want eight kids; he wants two. These are only a few examples of the hard conversations. They are hard because of what’s at stake, and you feel the weight of the results. What if you scare him off? What if his answer will scare you off? You avoid the conversation rather than talk to him, but the issue sits in your chest like an anxious butterfly. You are going to talk anyway. You might as well be heard without making the problem/concern/feelings into a bigger deal.
Remember, the idea here is that we want to help stop fights, disagreements, and feelings of aloneness before they start, and before they snowball into issues that cannot be controlled — when couples withhold love out of fear. Blech!
Below are eight steps win/win steps to Hard Conversation Freedom with Men!
Make it an Easy Conversation
Ground zero! If he is the right guy, you will likely need to have many hard conversations about sex, money, respect, family, feelings, and a plethora of other subjects that will come up during the course of your long-term relationship. Your imagination’s worst-case-scenario talk in your mind will be harder than the real one. Relax. You will be okay.
2. Have Empathy
Before you talk have empathy for him. You are about to tell him not-so-hot news, and he is not a mind-reader. You are not looking to hurt his feelings or make him wrong, just inform him about where you’re at.
3. Keep it Positive
When you talk, find a positive FIRST. “I really like you and everything is going well,” is a good place to start. This is not just to butter him up, but to remind YOU why you like him in the first place. Hard conversations are not about creating deal-breaking ultimatums.
4. Keep it about you (rather than finger pointing)
For example, “I am having a problem/concern and want to talk to you about it. It’s important to me. Okay?”
5. Offer to help
After you’ve shared what you want, ask, “Is there anything I can do to help with this?”
He might say, “You are being silly,” but he will more likely say something like, “I am sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I will try to be more careful/sensitive in the future.”
6. Keep it in Perspective
After the conversation, he may mess up and forget. DO NOT punish him! This may happen multiple times, and it may forever remain an unresolved issue. Look for signs that he cares and that he is trying.
7. One Issue at a Time
If there are a few problems, wait a few days before discussing the next issue. Make sure the next issue is really an issue, and not just a passing feeling.
8. Be Patient
He has spent his whole life being who he is, so cut him some slack. Let him know you care.
Remember this is a process for both of you. If he is the wrong guy, think of the above list as practice for when you find the right guy. And as a dear friend once told me, ‘A woman invites you into a relationship — and invites you out of a relationship.’ You hold the key more often than not.
Some General Rules
Finally, there is no set of rules right for every person in every situation. A few general rules are helpful in most situations. Kind is better than mean. Compassion is better than punishment. Acceptance is better than Judgment. And “I feel this” is better than “You did this rotten thing to me, you stupid jerk!”