How to master difficult conversations – especially in the holiday season
Posted on: December 16, 2019
It’s the most wonderful season of all! Or so they say… But it’s true that when people are able to gather with their families over the festive season and take a break from the hectic pace of everyday life, they feel the warmth. Chilling and chatting with loved ones over a great meal or sipping a cup of our favorite treat, it’s tempting to talk about subjects that often get brushed aside in our busy routines. Like your family history, perhaps, or your parents’ memories of what their lives were like at your age.
Did they already think about having children, say? When did they start planning their family – or did they plan at all? What expectations were they exposed to? Did they have the chance to test the waters, or was marriage their first step? And did they have the same contraception options that you have today?
You’re probably thinking, okay, important subject, check, but this talk could turn bad very fast. After all, family planning and contraception are such intimate and personal subjects. But take our tips, and you’ll find even these topics go smoothly and you can forget any embarrassment or concern about opening up.
1. Don’t stereotype the conversation before you’ve even got going. No need to look for potential problems where there aren’t any! Just relax and don’t even think about all the what-ifs and where things could go. Dwelling on what might happen can make you tense and defensive from the start, and that’s when the problems could start. Not what you need when the conversation takes a personal turn.
2. Be an active listener and try to keep your emotional reactions in check. Attentive listening is an absolutely essential part of successful open communication.
3. However difficult a conversation might become, it isn’t a battlefield; there are no winners and losers. If you’re seeking to understand something or find a solution, do your best to shift a difficult conversation onto a more positive track.
4. Pay attention to the emotional and physical signals you’re getting from your dialogue partner. When talk turns to difficult or even unpleasant topics we often tend to put up barriers, which causes us to become nervous and makes the whole conversation even more difficult. If you’re paying attention, you can recognize the signs and help to get the dialogue back on track. Those signs could include changes in voice tone and speed of talking, nervous laughter, changes in eye contact, and frequent use of the word “but.” A sudden rush of “buts” might be a sign that your dialogue partner wants to say something he or she might be embarrassed about. Take up that “but” and use it to help finish the sentence together.
Of course, it could be that you and your parents have no difficulty discussing topics like these. Lucky you! But if you do, keep these tips in mind to boost your confidence in talking about tricky subjects like contraception and family planning. Perhaps, also keep in mind that your parents were young as well and did not have the same experience as nowadays. Maybe they would have struggled or have been afraid too, when it had come to these issues?
After all, you’re also demonstrating to your parents that you’re thinking seriously about your future and taking a responsible attitude to the subject, so there’s no reason for anyone to feel uncomfortable. Quite the opposite, in fact; you might find that talking about it and maybe even getting advice from your parents will be helpful for you in the situations and decisions you encounter in the future. In addition, have a look at these important points that you can recall when you talk about contraception or any other big life decision.