How to have difficult conversations so that you don’t burn bridges

We can use these techniques with friends, partners, family members or work colleagues.
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Our grievances always seem to bubble to the surface despite our best efforts to suppress them. All the things we’ve brushed off, or told ourselves we were silly to get upset about, or that we’d decided to shelve because we didn’t want to ‘spoil the day’ – they have a way of working their way out.

Worst case scenario is they come to the fore when we’ve had a couple of drinks and our tongues are loosened. This always makes things worse.

Life coach and body language expert Suzanne Masefield says it’s important to spend a bit of time thinking about how you’re going to raise the subject before you launch into a difficult conversation – and by that she doesn’t mean rehash it over and over in your mind. She’s talking about sitting down and writing out how you feel and what has triggered you, so that you can start to process your emotions and define what’s really bothering you.

“The more clearly you can articulate that, the better,” she advises.

Think about how you’d like to receive the message you’re about to give, she advises, and create a comfortable space for talking in.

Use open body language and rather than accusing the recipient of causing your grievance, use non-threatening phrases like ‘I feel like XX when you XX’.

Be mindful of the fact men often need time to go away and process emotions, she says, whereas women tend to process emotions by talking through them. “It’s an important difference to take into consideration.”

And lastly, stay calm and be still.

“The calmer and more present you are the more seriously someone will take you,” Masefield says.

These guidelines will apply whether you’re raising a difficult topic with your partner, your mum, your best friend or a work colleague, she says.

Good luck!

Video by Lana Byrne

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