Communicate Needs Without Creating Conflict
Are there times when you have something you know you need to talk about with someone but you’re afraid to bring it up because it will probably start a fight? How can you bring it up and approach it without ruining the evening? Here are some suggestions that might increase your odds of success.
What do you want to achieve? Before you approach the other person think about what you want to achieve. The goal is not to always get your way but it can be to come to a solution that will work for both of you. The relationship is more important than getting your way.
Timing is important. Don’t approach your partner right when they walk in after a long day, or when the kids are demanding attention. Wait for a time when outside stresses are minimized.
Start with an affirmation. This helps your partner be less defensive. If you want to talk about your relationship tell him or her something positive you see them doing like “thanks for making me coffee this morning I appreciate your help” Or if it’s about parenting “You really helped me out when you took the kids out this morning so I could sleep in, your a good mom/dad.
Be specific and state the facts. Now you approach the topic, being specific increases clarity, “I see that you made plans without talking to me” or “I noticed you are staying late at work several nights in a row”
State how it makes you feel. This puts the focus on your emotions, “I feel left out and not considered when you don’t talk to me first before making plans” or “When you don’t come home I feel like work has become a priority and not me, that hurts”
Don’t bring up the past. Stay on topic.
Don’t exaggerate. Saying “you always” or “you never” causes defensiveness.
State what you need. This allows your partner to know how to solve the problem with you. “I need you to clear plans that involve us both with me before committing” or “I need you home for dinner at least 3 times a week”
Admit your mistakes. When you own up to something it puts the other person in a non-defensive position.
This style of communication opens the conversation in a clear and non-threatening way. This does not mean your partner will always agree and give you what you want. The follow up will involve listening and compromise. Considering each others feelings and trying to meet each others needs will build a bond of trust and respect.
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