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How to Have Difficult Conversations Without Causing A Fight

 

How to Have Difficult Conversations Without Causing A Fight

Do you struggle to have difficult conversations? It’s totally normal to feel uncomfortable when it comes to addressing conflict. If you notice difficult conversations in your life are constantly turning into fights, don’t worry! Many people struggle with this and we have some practical tips to help. 

Whether it’s with your significant other, your children or even a coworker, here are tools you can use to approach difficult conversations and help create a more positive outcome. 

 

#1 Begin the Conversation with Statements of Appreciation

Oftentimes when we’re addressing difficult subjects with others, intense emotions can come up and change our behavior. Let the other person know you’re not there to attack them by starting your conversation with some words of appreciation for the other person. This will also help you shift your mindset and theirs. 

Examples:

  • “I notice how much you care about ___ and want you to know that I do too”
  • “You’re very helpful with_____ and it’s important to me that you know how much I appreciate that” 

 

#2 Use “I” Statements

One common reason difficult conversations turn into fights is because we express ourselves through accusatory statements about the other person rather than focusing on our feelings. It can be easy to forget that behaviors are frustrating, not people. By focusing on the behavior and not the person, it’s easier to avoid blame statements. There’s no better way to put someone else on the defensive that to use “you” statements like:

  • You always….
  • I feel that you…
  • You never…

Instead, focus on yourself, your needs and your experience by using “I”.

  • I feel ….. “enter emotion”
  • When “x behavior happens” I take that as “enter what it means to you”
  • I would really like it if “enter solution”

 

#3 Practice Reflective Listening 

If you think you may be struggling to see the other person’s side of things, try repeating what you heard back to the other person and asking if that’s correct. This shows your genuine effort to hear and understand their experience while also giving them the opportunity to clarify anything they said. 

Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re putting in a genuine effort to change your communication style and the outcomes of difficult conversations with others in your life. These tools will help you in your journey. 

Put these skills and many more into action in one of our adult classes: Addressing Conflict and Anger Effectively.

 

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When conflict happens in the workplace or people experience inappropriate or difficult behavior at work, relationships are damaged and productivity often suffers.
 
Workplaces that embrace Restorative Practices have the potential to create a safer, happier and more effective workplace for everyone. Restorative Practices can be used within the workplace both as a preventative measure and to address conflict when it does arise, enabling teams and individuals to work well together.

Restorative Practices can be an effective way to resolve workplace conflict. It involves:
  • bringing together all those affected by conflict
  • providing a safe environment for the expression of perspective
  • allowing participants to come to a shared understanding
  • identifying creative ways to deal with conflict
  • providing opportunities to rebuild damaged relationships and strengthen teams 

Restorative approaches can also be used proactively within the workplace to build strong, positive relationships. Staff meetings, for example, can be focused on building relationships and based around a foundation of mutual respect.
 
To discuss opportunities to bring this training to your workplace or to customize this training to your organizations needs, please contact Jessica Sherwood at Jessica.Sherwood@conflictcenter.org or call 303.865.5624.
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