Saint Kopite has written a personal story about his experience of getting over a girl. In it, he talks about some of the problems he had with communication when going through difficulties with a relationship.
He mentions the advice that many of his friends gave him.“Just two days after we got together, for no apparent reason, she refused to speak to me at School and then over the weekend. When we finally spoke she was angry at me and said she had a wonderful weekend but was frustrated by me. I had not even seen her since Thursday, so I had no idea what was going on. On the Monday and Tuesday she flat out ignored me, even when I spoke to her directly. It was not until the Friday we finally spoke with one of her friends together to try and sort something out.”
When trying to communicate with someone, it often isn’t as easy as ‘just talking’. There are often practical or personal barriers that can get in the way and need to be overcome before you can have that conversation. Sometimes you need to prepare what you want to say and find the right time to say it. Managing a conversation can be difficult if you have something hard to say, or if emotions are running high.During this time, my real life friends separate from this group were not much help. Most of them said 'just talk to her' when they knew just as well as I did that she refused to talk to me whatsoever.”
What personal or practical barriers might you or someone else face when trying to prepare for, and have, a difficult conversation?
What suggestions do you have for overcoming these barriers and communicating better with friends, partners or parents?
To get you thinking, here is an article on Communicating as a Couple from TheSite.org and a video on arguing productively from VideoJug. You might also want to look at this article from Samaritans on Difficult Conversations.
Don't worry if you can't think of any solutions straightaway, part of what we're hoping to do is identify as many barriers as possible. In the same way, if someone mentions a barrier that you have a suggestion for, then feel free to comment on other people's ideas
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21-10-2011 12:58 PM #1
Communication and having difficult conversations
22-10-2011 11:05 AM #2
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- Oct 2011
He/she always gets angry when I try to talk about something important
The way we introduce a difficult conversation can make a big difference to how it is received. Many of us will get defensive in some way if we feel attacked.
Try to separate your partner and their actions: "you are a selfish person" is very different to "I would like it if you considered me more when you do this". The first one suggests there is something wrong with the person as a whole, whereas the second simply asks them to change a certain action in a certain situation.
Make the conversation about your emotions, rather than a judgement on them: "I feel insecure when you talk closely with girls" feels a lot less attacking than "I don't trust you around other girls". The first one explains how you feel and opens a conversation about why that might be. The second suggests you are in the right and there must be something wrong with your partner.
Ask, don't tell: "do you still have feelings for your ex?" is a lot better than "you're still in love with your ex". The first one shows that you are listening to them and will trust your answer. The second one is hard to respond to and suggests you have already made your mind up.
Use language that shows you understand your partner: "whenever we meet my friends you speak to them and you ignore me" only puts across your side. "I understand that you want to make a good impression on my friends, but sometimes you make so much effort with them that you ignore me" shows that you understand where they are coming from and appreciate it, but would like to find a balance that works for both of you.
If there is a positive, put it in: this isn't always easy when you feel bad. "You are really important to me, but I feel that something has changed in the way we are together" is much better than "Things aren't like they used to be". The first shows that you care and want to fix things, the second is all negative and just says there is a problem.
22-10-2011 11:16 AM #3
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- Oct 2011
Timing is everything
Taking the first step to initiating a difficult conversation is a tough call. There is, more than often, fear involved - how will that other person react when you reveal your frustrations. Could another argument erupt and will the truth cause yet more anger and frustration?
Being open and honest with each other can cause hurt and upset. More than often, there is a lot of misunderstanding involved when communication breaks down. Presumption is another barrier to having that all important open conversation.
There really is no perfect way to overcoming barriers to communication but there are ways you can manage them with a thoughtful and sensitive approach. Timing is crucial and thinking through what you want to say - perhaps making a list on a piece of paper can help in working through how you are feeling before you relay this to the other person.
Speaking in person, rather than via the internet, text or phone, is really crucial. Only then can you truly engage and see that person's reaction/gauge their emotions in order to move forward.
Being honest with yourself and that other person is really the only way to overcoming complications in communicating. It's easier said than done. Take your time, there is no rush.
22-10-2011 11:28 AM #4
- Join Date
- Oct 2011
I don't know what to say
Having the guts to start a difficult conversation is one thing, but you need to have something to say. Just saying "I feel bad about ..." is a good start, but the more you can explain what emotion the situation brings up in you, why you think that is, and what would you like to do about it; the more basis there is for a conversation.
It can be hard to work out why we feel certain emotions. Say your partner has a close friend that is the same sex as you, and you don't like it. You might just feel bad. You might know you feel jealous. You could go even further and know that you don't like another boy/girl getting so much of their attention, that you are worried that they might go too far with the other person, or you are envious that you don't have someone outside of your relationship to confide in like that.
- Writing out on paper the key things that you really want to put across, what you want to know from them and so on can be a really good way of clearing up what you want to say beforehand.
- Talking to a friend or a family member about the problem can help to clear up the different issues involved, and give you an outside opinion on what you are saying, and how someone else might react.
- Look up your issue on TheSite. There aren't many relationship problems that someone else hasn't had before. You might well find that there is already a discussion there, or that you can ask what others think.