How To Have Tough Conversations With Your Partner
Whoa whoa whoa. Slow down! You’re about to have a tough conversation with your partner - you can’t just barrel rush it like a bull on a red flag. Take a breath. Good. Now another one. Okay, feeling better? Great.
Now, before we just waltz in there, we need to get a strategy together. More of a mental checklist. A series of questions you ask yourself BEFOREHAND so when you approach them and start the conversation, you have clear goals about what questions you want answered and what kind of clarity you want to gain. Doesn’t sound so hard, right?
Here is the mental check-list you should go through before your tough convo to be the best most positive most effective tough-convo-haver you can be:
Question 1: What is your purpose for having this conversation?
Close your eyes and imagine the perfect outcome of this discussion. What outcome have you and your partner reached? What was the result of your talk? Be honest with yourself and censor for any hidden motives. Some purposes are more useful than others. If you realize your purpose wasn’t as useful as it can be, now is the time to edit it.
Question 2: What assumptions are you making about their goals and intentions?
Before the convo takes place, all you can do is guess at their ultimate goal. And guessing isn’t great. If you feel intimidated - you might assume they are trying to intimidate you. But that could be far from their goal. Take time now to understand what you DO know (facts) from what you DON’T know (assumptions).
Question 3: Which of your “buttons” is being pushed?
When we have emotional (or angry) reactions, it’s typically because we’re afraid. Afraid of something too deep to articulate, so we lash out with fury. But is your reaction warranted? Or is it out of proportion? Trace your steps backwards a bit and see if you can pinpoint times you felt triggered. Getting a better understanding of WHY this is a tough convo on your end will help you walk in with maximum preparation.
Question 4: How is your attitude influencing your perception?
For instance, if you’re dreading this conversation like a root canal - it will probably be horrible. If you think that at least something good will come out of it - then it probably will. Your thoughts have a lot more power than you think. Adjust accordingly.
Question 5: Who is the enemy?
Is it them? (Hopefully the answer is no.) It might be your schedules - if you have felt disconnected lately. It might be distance - if you have to spend time apart. It might be a person, but likely the enemy is an idea. Something that you both can team up to fight TOGETHER. (Even though it feels like you’re on opposite sides, you’re really on the same one.)
Question 6: What are you needs and your fears?
What do you need from your partner that you’re too afraid to say out loud (but are just hoping they’ll magically understand without having to be told) AND what do you fear will happen if you can’t get it from them?
Question 7: How have you contributed to the issue?
It’s easy to stay completely in your lane and ignore that there is another person with a whole other perspective of the exact same situation. Sure, you want to address certain things with them so that’s all you’re thinking about. But get real with yourself: What did you do to make the situation magnified? In what ways did you participate in this becoming an issue? Having knowledge of the role you played and taking responsibility for your actions levels the playing field and will set you up to have a very productive, very adult conversation.
That’s it! Lucky #7 questions to ask yourself before going in with the big guns. Have some perspective here: It IS a tough convo you are about to have with them - but guess what? Every day, everywhere, people have tough conversations. They live through it, and so will you. Take a deep breath. You ready? Great. You got this.