Here we’ll cover:
- When conversations get stuck
- Facing resistance? Take a break
- Tips to turn a conversation around
- Conversation fine-tuning
- Remember to be kind
1. Facing resistance
Now for some super-direct real talk.
No matter what well-meaning, positive strategies we practice, there are going to be times when it feels like nothing works and conflict is inevitable.
We might feel stuck and frustrated, ready to walk away or lash out.
Quick, compassionate reminder: YOU’RE HUMAN.
Whatever arises inside you is ok. All of it is welcomed here. Truly.
The best thing we can do is acknowledge that there are going to be tough moments, or tough long stretches, in conversations.
And, choose to not let our minds make the moment mean something bigger than what is actually real and true. This moment of conflict doesn’t mean anything determinant about the future.
The only thing this conflict means is that this is a tough moment.
It doesn’t have to last a long time if you’re willing to meet it from a new, non-blaming perspective. And sometimes the best response is to take a break and return to it another day.
We’re better equipped if we know these moments will come and don’t perceive them as failures or going backwards in progress.
We get to move through them faster if we remember this-
We all want the same thing: to feel connected, alive, and thriving.
2. Tips to turn a conversation around
Five tips for positive conversations no matter the situation:
Express empathy and acceptance toward their concerns. Let your side of the push / pull relax for long enough to hear what’s going on for them underneath the words.
Find a distinction between present moment behavior and the end result they actually want. For example, if I know that the person I’m concerned about wants to feel connected (we all do) and I speak to them in a way that divides us, I am actually reinforcing intoxication. This motivates me to find a different approach, regardless of how attached my ego is my point in the conflict.
Choose something other than arguing. No matter what. Confrontation forces a win/lose situation. A divide. A hierarchy, an inequality. Reinforcing intoxication.
Flow with their resistance instead of pushing against it. Assume that the person you care about is a valuable resource in finding solutions, so there is validity in their resistance. Our intention is to help shift their perspective so that what seems impossible is possible.
Remember that the person you’re concerned about IS CAPABLE OF CHANGE. And ultimately, they are responsible for choosing it and walking the slow, steady path toward it. Keeping this in mind helps facilitate the process of change.
3. Conversation fine-tuning
This checklist is really good for radical change in a relationship.
Choose 1 or 2 of these and spend a week shifting the way you engage. The following week, choose 1 or 2 more. Keep going until they’re all incorporated into your relationship dynamic.
- Do I listen more than I talk?
Or am I talking more than I listen?
- Do I keep myself sensitive to this person’s issues, whatever they may be?
Or am I talking about what I think the problem is?
Do I invite this person to talk about and explore his/her own ideas for change?
Or am I jumping to conclusions and possible solutions?
Do I encourage this person to talk about his/her reasons for not changing? (And listen without trying to counter their points?)
Or am I forcing him/her to talk only about change?
- Do I ask permission to give my feedback?
Or am I presuming that my ideas are what s/he needs to hear?
- Do I reassure this person that ambivalence to change is normal?
Or am I telling her/him to take action and push for a solution?
- Do I help this person identify successes and challenges from her/his past and relate the past successes and challenges to present change efforts?
Or am I encouraging her/him to ignore, or get stuck on, old stories?
Do I seek to understand this person?
Or am I spending a lot of time trying to convince them to understand me and my ideas?
Do I summarize for this person what I am hearing them say after they share something with me so they know I get it?
Or am I just responding with what I think?
- Do I value this person’s opinion more (or even equally) to my own?
Or am I giving more value to my point of view?
- Do I remind myself that this person is capable of making her/his own valid choices?
Or am I assuming that s/he is not capable of making good choices?
4. Today’s Action: Be nice.
We have been focusing on the person we’re concerned about and our relationship with them. We’ve seen for ourselves the findings of evidence-based research, showing relationship dynamics and ways of communicating that are ineffective for arriving at our desired results.
We don’t have to wait for the person we’re concerned about to make changes before we start being consistently kind and engaged.
As always, let’s start simple and immediately.
These three touch points can help lay the foundation for change, decreasing any tension, frustration, or anger, and the decreasing the distance between the two of you.
Did you spend some time today devoting your complete attention to good-natured conversation between the two of you?
Did you express appreciation for them today?
Did you visibly express affection to them today?
No matter what, keep returning to the tools and practices in the Playbook.
With commitment and consistency, they work.
And remember, you are not alone. We’re here and we’re not going anywhere!