Everyday Mindfulness

How to Have Hard Conversations

 

This point in our history is a time of accelerated healing, and healing meditation is at the forefront of positive change! If you are aware, you can touch into those deep, core wounds you may have had since childhood that you don’t even realize are pressing upon you.

We know an emotional reaction is happening when we are triggered by something someone says or an event that causes an outburst. That outburst might even seem unexplainable at the moment. We may start to wonder how to have hard conversations with those who trigger us.

We know that emotional reactions are tied to the past because of how we react to the memory and meaning from that past experience. We see this culturally over events that cause heated responses, whether in politics or injustices in our culture.

This season of life is a great time to pay attention to your mental health and talk about emotional maturity in responding to triggers. This blog post is focused on a question that I often hear: How do I have a difficult conversation with emotional awareness and intelligence?

We recognize that we have tension in our communications when we have a strong sense of black and white. We may not be asking how to have difficult conversations, but instead avoid them because of the conflict. When you have a strong sense of this is right and that is wrong, it reflects a fear-based consciousness, especially when there is no room for interpretation or interpersonal communication about what you’re discussing.

When you have that scenario, where one person is wrong and one person is right, it does not create the possibility of having a connected conversation. Instead, the goal is to be tolerant and open and have space for people who have different perspectives, opinions, and beliefs than you.

This ability is a key attribute to emotional maturity and intelligence. When you have the space for someone completely different from you and a willingness to listen to them, being open to their views and having a conversation is a high mark of having emotional maturity based on your willingness to accept other people.

That’s also what we work toward in our meditation practice at Sura Flow. We’re communicating on this topic because we have personally worked with thousands of others worldwide who are working through these issues in their daily lives as they train to lead others in meditation practice. We are opening up that space so that consciousness can be opened for everyone. The goal is not to degrade and criticize others continually because of who they are. Those who polarize, target, and blame others are not conducive to meditation’s space of presence and awareness.

We all have boundaries around needing to be respected, but the intention is to be present with others who have extreme differences without having to bite your tongue and hold your peace because of fear of what you might say.

So, when you are triggered by what someone has done or said, whether purposefully or accidentally, by action or inaction, and feel yourself starting to have an emotional reaction, follow these 7 steps to help you manage difficult conversations and promote a space for healing.

How to Have Hard Conversations?

 

1. Approach the Person Who has Triggered you and Request a Conversation Within 24 to 48 Hours of the Triggering Event

You might simply say, “This event brought something up for me. Do you mind if we talk about it?”

Set aside a time to speak about it in person or on the phone. No text or emails filled with grievances because there is no possibility to judge the verbal and non-verbal clues that are naturally part of conversation.

There is so much that can be miscommunicated through social media responses. There is something powerful about hearing someone’s voice when you are talking about a difficult subject. Without the voice, you can lose that personal connection. So, set aside a time that works for both of you. Sometimes we can better understand how to have difficult conversations when we put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and contemplate how we would like to be treated.

Schedule the follow-up conversation within 24 to 48 hours of the triggering event. Having it right away can be difficult because you may still be responding emotionally from the trigger. You need time to get perspective, process what has happened, and gather your thoughts. You are still in that reaction mode marked by fight or flight, so wait until you calm down and some energy has subsided.

On the other hand, if you wait too long, that event turns into silence, and much of the power of what happened is lost due to the passage of time. Excuses also mount the longer you wait, and those excuses turn into reasons not to have the important conversation. People even decide to give up on friendships rather than experience temporary discomfort that will help heal a relationship.

2. Be Willing to Listen to the Other Person Without Judgment, Defensiveness, or Overexplaining

Provide that space of listening to the other person. Listen while you stay grounded and anchored in your body.

3. Practice Active Listening by Repeating What You Heard the Other Person Say and Ask, “Did I Hear You Correctly?”

This approach means you need to be willing to listen. Emotionally mature conversations mean we are willing to see and hear each other. The key is to see, hear, and feel each other because we are all one. We are all connected. This approach shows positive intent because you are willing to understand and listen. You empathize with the other person, even though they have brought up some hurtful feelings for you.

4. Express Your Truth Fully but With Calm and Without Criticism, Negativity, or Blame

Express yourself fully. Most people can do that! But express yourself calmly as well. I remind others of remaining grounded as they speak. You can gain support from the earth. It keeps you from projecting your hurts onto someone else or making someone else wrong.

You might even start the conversation with, “Look, I am just going to tell you what is true for me as part of this conversation. I don’t want you to take this personally or as an attack, but I want you to know what came up for me in this.” When you do this, you set the tone before you share.

5. After you Have Dispelled the Hurt and Conflict Between You, Take Time to Agree on What you can Both do to Respond Better Next Time

After you have heard each other and had this conversation about listening to the other person, you have hopefully dispelled the hurt and conflict between you. Agree on what steps you will take to do better next time. “I will clarify with you before I assume anything about what you are thinking,” or “I understand this is what you need, so I will do this differently next time.”

When you do this, you take it a step further and show you are willing to meet the other person’s needs and desires. For example, some of us live carefree without paying much attention to schedules. Others live by their calendars. This conflict might need one person to recognize how different they are from the other and be willing to do what the other person needs to live more harmoniously.

This topic is important for long-term personal and professional relationships and is related to information on difficult conversations at work. For more information on how to meditate at work, a prime place for many people to face triggers with others, read the following blog: https://suraflow.org/how-to-meditate-at-work/.

how to have hard conversations

6. Share Love and Appreciation in That Conversation With Each Other

Share what you appreciate about the other person. You can always say, “Thank you for being willing and open to having this conversation and being open to listening from my point of view.” This willingness to share helps repair the bond between two people. Learning how to go with each other’s flow is the key to having harmonious relationships.

7. Agree and Plan to Spend Time Together in the Future

When you spend time together, energy will continue to flow through the bond and connection you have just repaired. Be intentional about reconnecting with that person and share something inspiring that will take your relationship into more positive energy.

Consider the following qualities and principles that individuals can strive for that repeatedly come up in difficult conversations:

  • Be respectful of each other. Treat everyone with a basic level of respect.
  • Allow space for those who are different from you, especially those who think, believe, and live differently than you do.
  • Live intentionally in these ways to bring about healing personally and collectively.
  • Be willing to have conversations without taking things personally or acting with fragility.
  • Strive to interact with people in ways that are outward-focused rather than about your ego and who you are.
  • Be present with people and listen to empathize with what is true for the other person you are in conversation with.
  • Recognize that many different realities and perspectives can exist together.
  • Real healing happens when we converse and communicate with each other honestly.
  • Strive to make sure that others are being seen, heard, and felt when you are in conversation with them.
  • Refrain from any blame, criticism, or negativity.
  • Be open, authentic, and vulnerable with others when conflict arises.
  • Detach from any outcome expectations or pre-conceived notions of how conversations will go. Approach the conversation with positive intentions and let the flow of the conversation happen organically.
  • Commit to changes in actions and behaviors to meet others’ needs and intentions while still honoring your own.
  • Meet each other halfway without either person having to compromise their own needs.
  • Work toward feeling safe and secure within yourself to connect and communicate with people. To do so takes willingness, humility, and maturity to bridge the divide between yourself and others.
  • Healing meditation provides practice for giving yourself space to deal with these difficult issues.

Guide: 7 Steps to Have a Hard Conversation

Follow these 7 steps on how to have hard conversations that heal relationships.

  1. Approach the person who has triggered you and request a conversation within 24 to 48 hours of the triggering event.
  2. Be willing to listen to the other person without judgment, defensiveness, or overexplaining.
  3. Practice active listening by repeating what you heard the other person say and ask, “Did I hear you correctly?”
  4. Express your truth fully but with calm and without criticism, negativity, or blame.
  5. After you have dispelled the hurt and conflict between you, take time to agree on what you can both do to react better next time.
  6. Share love and appreciation in that conversation with each other.
  7. Agree and plan to spend time together in the future.

how to have hard conversation with emotional maturity

FAQs: How Do I Start a Difficult Conversation?

If you are wondering how to have hard conversations with those who trigger you, follow these steps for success.

  1. Approach the purpose who triggered you and request a conversation within 24 to 48 hours of the triggering event. Say, “This brought something up for me. Do you mind if we talk about it?”
  2. Set aside a time to speak about it in person or on the phone. No text or emails filled with grievances because of the lack of ability to judge another’s verbal and nonverbal clues that are naturally part of a conversation. There is so much that can be miscommunicated through social media responses. There is something powerful about hearing someone’s voice when you are talking about a difficult topic. You lose that personal connection when you don’t do this. So, set aside a time that works for both of you. Sometimes we can better understand how to have difficult conversations when we put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and contemplate how we would like to be treated.
  3. Practice active listening by repeating what you heard the other person say and ask, “Did I hear you correctly?”
  4. Express your truth fully but with calm and without criticism, negativity, or blame.



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