Having Difficult Conversations

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Difficult conversations seem to be the name of the game with teenagers in my house. There’s rarely a week that goes by without one required of me. In the past 3 weeks alone we have dealt with one kid having a car accident, another not finishing their school assignment and one needing help responding to a bully at school.

Luckily I have learned a lot about difficult conversations by being the parent of an LGBTQIA+ child. If you, like me, have a Q+ child, you know we are frequently presented with hard conversations not only with our children, but with our families, friends, and schools. Because my clients frequently come to me for help with these conversations, today I thought I would offer some of my favorite techniques for having difficult conversations:

  1. Choose your time wisely. Just because you are available right now doesn’t mean you or the other party are in the right head space for the conversation. You can always say, “This is important to me. I want to be at my best so I can fully hear you. _____ would be a better time for me. Would that be okay with you?”

2. Show up. And I don’t mean just be in the room. Be present to the conversation. Listen to the words being used and try not to insert your own interpretation.

3. Ask questions. Curiosity often turns an argument into a conversation. Replace rebuttals with, “I want to fully understand. Can you explain?” or simply, “Please say more.”

4. Allow room for silence. So often we are uncomfortable in the quiet but this is where the other person may be thinking. As well, it allows for them to full finish.

5. Ask questions again. “Am I missing anything?” “Is there anything you would like me to know?”

6. Recap whether it was just a quick conversation, a request or a disagreement. “So I’m clear…”

7. Journal the conversation. Both what you heard and what you think you heard. Expanding your ability to observe the actual words and your interpretation with allow you to be more present and

Having difficult conversations with respect and presence is a skill. I’m hopeful this gave you a few new ideas to practice. If you struggle in this area, please feel free to reach out for help. sarah@sarahkennedycoaching.com

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