How To Have Those Difficult Conversations With Your Partner

You love your partner, but sooner or later, a tough conversation needs to happen. While this is normal, (after all, what relationship doesn’t have its bumps along the way) how you handle those conversations will determine whether you come away from this particular conflict with a stronger appreciation for each other.

This is why it’s so important to handle difficult conversations well. 

How do you ensure you engage in the best conversation possible in these circumstances?

Start with Not Putting Off the Talk Longer than Necessary

Take time to count to ten or to take a few deep breaths before beginning. After all, starting with too much emotion will be more damaging than helpful. Once you’re cooled down though, it’s time to talk. Why is it better sooner rather than later? By putting things off, you tend to build up resentment and inflate the conflict. It’s important to address situations before they get out of hand. A small problem today is much easier to solve than a giant one several weeks from now.

Drop the Good News / Bad News Approach

No one likes waiting for the other shoe to drop, so instead of giving the compliment with a ‘but’ lurking to negate everything you’ve just said, just come out and say the bad news first. If you’re determined to add in the compliment, do so after the bad stuff is out of the way, so you leave the person on a more positive note.

Plan Your Conversation

Rather than blindside your partner with an uncomfortable discussion, let them know you have something you want to talk about. Make it clear you’re wanting to discuss something that affects your feelings, rather than starting out in an attack. There’s a vast difference between, “I’d like to talk to you sometime about your drinking” vs. “I’d like to talk to you about how I feel when I see you drinking so heavily.” 

What Are Your Goals?

In any heavy conversation, you need to agree at some point on common goals. Working toward the same thing will help you find your way through the conversation to that eventual place.

Keep a Positive Spirit

Aim for optimism. Even if the conversation isn’t going how you would like it to, finding something to hope for will soften the outcome no matter what. 

Difficult conversations are just that: Difficult. But having a plan in place will help you to get through them. Use these steps to build the framework of your conversation, and even if the outcome is bad, getting there won’t be as difficult as you think. 


5 Tips For Having Those Difficult Conversations

Communication is a skill, whether the conversations are easy or difficult. Difficult conversations might be the scariest of all. 

Talking about difficult subjects with people can be scary, awkward, or difficult. It’s a lot easier when you want to share happy feelings. It can be a challenge when you’re struggling to find the right words because you want to talk about tough subjects. Check out these tips to have difficult conversations.

Having a difficult conversation is hard work. It can take some courage to face these situations head-on. Avoiding problems can lead to anger, frustration, stress, or anxiety. Think about how you will feel after you have the conversation you might be dreading. Having situations handled and not hanging over your head can be freeing.

Check out these 5 tips to have difficult conversations.

1. Validate Your Feelings

For some people, it’s hard to share feelings because we think they are not worthy, or valid. Maybe they are not important enough to trouble someone with. Validate yourself here. No matter how small, your feelings, and thoughts matter. You have the right to assertively communicate with people about things that matter to you.

2. Be Assertive 

What Is Assertiveness?

Assertiveness is a skill that means demonstrating healthy confidence where you state your rights and stand up for yourself in a respectful manner. You are taking care of yourself by looking out for yourself.

Steps To Being Assertive 

  • Ask for you want or need respectfully
  • It is ok to say “No”
  • Speak your mind
  • Remember that you are not responsible for the other party’s response
  • You have a right to your feelings 
  • Use “I” statements when speaking
  • Don’t apologize for your feelings or needs.

3. Practice For Tough Conversations

If expression of your feelings is not something you have done often it may feel awkward, but practicing helps you get better at it. Take it in small steps a little at a time. The more you rehearse how you would like to express yourself in these moments the easier it will be.

4. Timing Is Everything

Check-in with the other party in advance. Just because you are ready to talk does not mean it is the right moment in time for who you are about to talk with. Check with them first and arrange to talk at a time that works for both of you. 

5.  Listen To Everyone In The Conversation

Difficult conversations are not one-sided. Part of sharing with people is listening. Be a good listener and keep an open mind for the opinions and ideas of those you talk to. It can be hard depending on the emotion of the conversation. Use control and restraint and actually hear those you are speaking with. Your communication will be enhanced. 

Talking about your problems can be intimidating and nerve-wracking. Getting comfortable with difficult conversations comes from practice. Learning to communicate assertively helps make these situations far less stressful.

Facing things head-on is part of self-mastery. It is comforting to know that even in difficult situations you are capable of speaking your thoughts and ideas in a calm collected manner. Maintaining control of yourself and all situations you are in can help with feeling in control of life. Even in situations where you are not the one in control of everything 

In all situations, do your best to stay calm, maintain eye contact, and be civil. When handled correctly, and assertively difficult conversations will lead to better communication and stronger relationships. 

With these tools, you will be well prepared to have difficult conversations.