Top Five Tips For Communication When It’s Hard
Sometimes communication just breaks down. Unfortunately it usually breaks down when it’s most important. If you can’t communicate effectively with the grocery clerk, who cares. The most serious thing that might happen there is you will find another grocery store. However, when communication has broken down with someone like your beloved, your ex, or your child, the stakes can get very high very fast.
I’ve been there myself, more times than I care to admit. I have ended up in court with an ex over issues that we should have been able to resolve without much difficulty if we just could have communicated. The cost of failure to communicate can be steep. However, what I know for sure is there are some tools that work when the going gets tough, but they only work when I use them.
Below are my top five tools for successful communication in challenging times.
- Pick your venue. When it’s going to get tricky do it in public. The bottom line is people behave better in public. Public places also seem to disperse negative energy that can get stuck in private. Many a problem has been solved in Starbucks that would have blown wide open in the livingroom. Even if you live with the person you’re having difficulties with, schedule a time to talk about the tough stuff somewhere else. Keep your living space a conflict free zone.
- Set the agenda. Sometimes when conflict is up the temptation is to take on too many things at once. During challenging communication times you are far more likely to have success if you tackle one thing at a time. Rather than, “How are we going to manage this separation?” you’ll have more luck with, “Who will be responsible for paying our joint bills this month?” One thing at a time. No more than three in one sitting.
- Do NOT use the words, always, forever, or never. Absolutes fuel conflict and keep parties on the defensive.
- Suspend your psychic powers. Thinking you know how someone is going to react and what they are going to say does not serve you during times of conflict. You don’t know. People can surprise you. If you aren’t expecting the best, you are energetically setting the stage for a less than desired outcome. So, if you can’t get to a positive expectation, at least work your way to accepting that you don’t really know what the future holds before you try to talk.
- Mental rehearsal and meditative communication do work. They really do. Pre-paving difficult communications with intentional rehearsal of how you’d like it to be can work miracles. It can create clarity and peace, not to mention, we are all connected, so when you can’t connect face to face, don’t discount the power of connecting soul to soul. (tweetable!)