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  • Emma Coyle

The Art of Happier Talking



How often have you found yourself worried about a conversation you know you have to have?


Perhaps it’s something that you know you just can’t avoid but still that feeling of dread can be so overwhelming that you try and put off having it for as long as you possibly can...

I’m sure we have all felt this way at some point or another, whether in anticipation of a difficult conversation we have to have with our boss, a work colleague, a parent, a friend or our partner.


Yet ask yourself this. How will the other person know that there even is a problem unless you talk to them about it?


To help facilitate an ‘easier’ conversation, I have come up with a few practical suggestions below. Whilst not an exhaustive list, hopefully it will give you a flavour of thekindsof things to think about before launching into any awkward or difficult conversation.

Context

1. Treat the conversation like a business meeting – view it as dealing with a practical and straightforward matter and talk to the other person with the same level of respect that you would afford a client or colleague in a business meeting.


Approaching things in this logical way, can help take the emotions (and potential heat!) out of the subject.


Note of Caution: Having said that, don’t lose sight of the need to always value and acknowledge the feelings of the other. Empathy is key. Ask yourself the question ‘How would I feel if I was hearing this from his/her position?’

Structure

1. Take turns to speak - make sure you give the other person equal time (and opportunity) to speak andmake sure you actively listen to what they have to say (rather than just trying to get your point across).


Big rambling speeches only distract from what is really important. We often give big endless speeches because we actually don't want to hear the response of the other


Content

1. Be completely honest, open and authentic about your values and feelings.


Be clear about how you would like to move forward but be prepared to compromise. At all times keep in mind your 'red lines' but know it is not always helpful to share these too early on as it can restrict and confine the conversation before it has even started


2. Think more thoughtfully about the language you use– instead of saying 'you make me feel,' try 'I feel' – owning how you feel in this way takes out the likelihood of any conflict

Ongoing Maintenance

1. Keep talking – make sure you set aside time each week to update your partner and allow them to update you on your evolving feelings. This should prevent any future issues from escalating and turning into arguments and will give each of you the ongoing reassurances you perhaps need from one another. It also positively promotes speaking up if something is no longer working for either one of you and needs review


The exercise below - PAIRS Daily Temperature Reading, created by Virginia Satir (1983), is a simple, quick and useful tool designed for couples to use as a daily 'check in.' Why not see if it can work for you?

PAIRS Daily Temperature Check In


Appreciations

Express gratitude, for even small things. What would you like to be appreciated for?


New Information

Share with each other, so you know what’s going on physically and emotionally in each other’s lives


Puzzles

What’s left you wondering? What’s confusing / worrying you? Ask – until you understand more


Complaints with Requests for Change

“When you ........................., I feel....................................................., and what I’d like instead........................................”


Wishes, Hopes and Dreams

Desires, wants, needs – bringing expectations into awareness. Wishes, Hopes and Dreams, for today, next week, this lifetime?




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