How to Create a Safe and Positive set up for Difficult Conversations

Believe it or not, the human brain is wired to fight more than it is to make peace. We are designed to either become defensive or retreat to keep ourselves safe when the conversation gets tough. Using the following tips should help your brain stay calmer and engaged. difficult conversation

1. Sit facing each other. When we sit side by side, we end up giving each other a lot of darting sideways looks which your brain registers as threats. This could involuntarily escalate the tone of the conversation. Consequently, it is best to avoid discussing big issues in the car or on walks.

2 . Stop trying to reconstruct the event that led to a disagreement. Who did what is not as important as understanding what was the real issue at hand.

3 . Take the time to ask yourself what you really need from the other person. Talk about your needs and how having them fulfilled will impact you and your satisfaction level with the relationship. Be ready to listen to the other party’s needs as well.

4. When you notice the other person is reacting negatively (agitated or withdrawn) to the conversation, slow things down. Remind them that you are on the same side and that you want to sort it out in a manner that makes both of you happy. If you are not in that frame of mind yourself, call a time out, “I don’t think I am in a good place right now, can we pick this up in a couple of hours when I have calmed myself down?”

5. Your brain is also wired to watch eyes and mouths very closely as a means of detecting danger. As a result, a smile can often relax a tensed atmosphere.

Next time you need to prepare for a difficult conversation, take a deep breath and think though what it will take to ease the tension and relieve the pressure from both of you.