“We need to talk.” We’re on guard as soon as we hear these words. In some circumstances we know what conversation will follow.
We mentally go back in history when we have no idea what’s coming. In a hurry to locate the cause for such a statement. Bracing ourselves. Generally going into survival mode.
This declaration tells us something is up. A person we respect is attempting to open up dialogue. Wanting to address an important issue.
These words don’t come from strangers. They come from people we love. Our partners, friends or family members. It’s a daunting sentence yet it should make us curious.
When possible we should stop what we’re doing and give them our full attention. Rather than be on the defence before the conversation has begun.
The “We need to talk”, preparation.
It’s not about winning. It’s about fixing a problem. You’re emotionally attached to this person.
Aware of the individual’s temperament. You know before you begin how they may respond.
Behaviours to prepare for: –
- Is this person an interrupter? Talking over you.
- Will they be defensive?
- Become teary.
- Present a feisty attitude?
- Are they likely to become nasty or sarcastic?
In all the above instances try to remain calm. Don’t jump into their drama. Having your say is only one half of the conversation.
Some people are dodgers. This is where it gets tricky. An individual who will do everything in their power to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions.
Attempting to steer the conversation onto another subject. Most of the time these individuals try and throw some dirt your way. They dig up the past in attempt to get the upper hand.
Be patient. Don’t get side tracked. Let them have their say. Then get back to your issue.
Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them. Nathaniel Hawthorne
Discussions of a sensitive nature, should be without interruption.
- No disturbances. This talk requires a distraction free environment. No kids running around. No other adults adding their two bobs worth. Start this conversation with the aim of finishing amicably.
- Tact and diplomacy. A potentially explosive or upsetting matter should be managed delicately. Have some idea how you will approach the subject.
- Respect. Yourself and the other person. Keep in mind if the shoe was on the other foot, how would you like to be presented with the same conversation?
- Speak from your own perspective. “I feel _____ when you do ____”. Don’t have a person building walls. Finger pointing will always put people on the defensive. “You constantly do ____. What a fool”.
Get comfortable in uncomfortable.
- What is your motivation for a serious talk?
- What do you want to get out of the conversation?
- Do you expect change?
- What happens if you don’t get it?
- Do you need the person to agree, disagree or are you wanting to get an issue off your chest?
These talks only work if both parties have respect for one another. It’s pointless trying to fix an issue with a person who does not appreciate themselves nor you.
Ways to communicate.
- Face to face. Facial expressions give us plenty of feedback.
- Chatting side by side. Working in the garden, driving in a car or going for a walk. This is a great way to communicate. Eye contact is not as intense as face to face.
- You can send an email or write a letter. This is good for the person who constantly butts in.
- Talk over the phone.
- Do NOT Text.
If you’re serious, face to face or side by side is advised. Other forms of communication maybe easier. Yet you’re not looking to skimp on conversation, you’re looking to fix a problem.
RELATED: ‘What Is Communication?’
Don’t be the Blurter.
- Don’t speak about this in front of other people.
- Don’t use it as ammunition. Throwing information at another in the heat of the moment.
- Don’t do it angry. Because you feel fearless.
- Don’t yell it out.
- Don’t be in a hurry to get it out of your system because you feel uncomfortable.
Acknowledge you may feel ill at ease over what you’re about to say. You care about the other person enough to want to have this conversation. It’s natural to feel this way.
Not all conversations will have the outcome you planned. Then what?
Generally after the ‘We need to talk’, conversation something has to follow. An explanation. A change. A response. A guarantee. An apology.
What happens if you don’t have the conversation? The mind takes over. Creating its own answers to the issue.Putting off an important conversation? Be careful. The mind will take over and come up with its own conclusions.… Click To Tweet
Say for instance a husbands business has begun to expand. The workload is overflowing. Until he hires someone he will be home late on a regular basis.
As he leaves each morning he kisses his wife on the cheek and reminds her he will be late. It never crossed his mind to inform his partner how busy he is. When he gets home he likes to relax, rather than go over the day’s events.
Over a period of a month the wife recognises her husband is arriving home 3 to 5 hours later than normal.
She’s worried. Feeling sad. Not sleeping well. Constantly feeling a sense of doom. She has wondered if he is having an affair. Questioned if he still loves her. She goes looking for hints.
Always on guard. She can’t seem to relax. Scenario after scenario keeps popping into her mind. Until finally she cannot stand it anymore.
She decides to talk about it with him. More to the point she is going to corner him and confront him. Preparing herself for the worst possible outcome.
When hubby gets home he sees the destressed look written all over her face. She says, “We need to talk”. He immediately drops his brief case to the floor and goes to her side.
She shares her thoughts and observations on the matter. He grabs hold of her, smiling broadly and explaining the growth in business. He even asks her to come into the office to help out.
The talk instantly evaporates all her worry and sadness. Don’t we love happy endings?
But what if the husband walks in from work and the wife says, “We need to talk”. Instead of giving her his complete attention he sighs is aggravation? Asks, “What now?” and says, “It seems like you have always got something urgent to talk about.”
It sounds as though this couple have more than one serious issue to address.
Instead of concern, the male feels inconvenienced. Ignoring his partners need to sit down and have a conversation.
Without the “We need to talk” discussion, situations can blow way out of proportion. The mind has a field day, tormenting us with many different possibilities.
All of a sudden our imagination activates to turbo. Taking over and distressing us. You know when you’ve gotten to this stage you’re putting off the tough talk.
We can’t expect others to know what we are thinking or feeling. Hints are not specifics. People are not mind readers.We can’t expect others to know what we are thinking or feeling. People are not mind readers. Click To Tweet
Get into a daily habit of sharing what is going on in your mind.
- 15 minutes of open communication, each and every day.
- If one person is travelling put in an effort to do this over the phone.
- No topic should be out of bounds.
- Get comfortable with the tough stuff.
- Even when you’re both disliking each other or angry – never skip over this period.
This powerful time together can’t be under estimated. A habit of putting aside all of life’s demands. Making this time a priority. In this period you express both trivial and important matters.
- Information. “Your friend made a pass at me.” A mate has just proven they can’t be trusted.
- Annoyance. “I did not like the way you spoke to_________. It looked too flirtatious. I felt embarrassed when you said _________”.
- Appreciation. “I’m the luckiest person on this earth to be sharing my life with you”. “After our talk you owe me that massage you’ve promised?”
When there are no matters to raise, dig a little deeper. Explore each other, get to know one another a better.
This time adds up over a year. In ten years-time your communication will still be as strong as it were when you first met.
Throughout the day you make a quick call to your partner. In amongst the conversation you say:-
- Playing around. “Boy do I have a dozy for you when we talk tonight”.
- Troubled mind. “Can’t wait for our 15 mins”.
Do all discussions have to wait for this 15 minutes? Of course not. We have busy lives, yet each morning or evening you can rely on this period of time.
You converse with the most important person in your life. Highlighting how valuable this time is. It offers relief and comfort.
This time slot can be the thing that keeps the whole relationship together. Anything can be shared in the right tone, the right moment and the right environment.
When you give yourself permission to communicate what matters to you in every situation you will have peace despite rejection or disapproval. Putting a voice to your soul helps you to let go of the negative energy of fear and regret. – Shannon L. Alder
RELATED: The Seven Deadly Sins Of A Relationship.
Confusion. Not understanding what hurts.
You feel there is a problem but you can’t explain it. What do you do then? You know of several situation where you felt something wasn’t right. Describe the situation and how it impacted you. Discuss what you would like to happen in the future.
You may see it one way, yet the other person doesn’t agree at all. Then what? Having the uncomfortable discussions does not mean things will change. So what happens when it does not? You have to either accept it or move on. For more information on this topic see – ‘He Says Beer, She Says Shoes. The Compromise In a Relationship‘.
Moving on is easier said than done. If you dropped everyone that annoyed you, there would be nobody around. Some relationships end naturally.
Other people are consciously cut from your life. What once united the both of you is now hard work.
- Being around them drains your energy.
- You’re not happy or feel on guard.
- It’s tougher maintaining a relationship that should have been over long ago.
What should never be negotiable?
Domestic violence – physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, sexual or financial abuse. It should never be acceptable regardless of the excuse. For more information on abuse see ‘Dear Domestic Violence‘.
Friends smiling and yet there feels like a hidden agenda. You’re not sure what’s going on, although you’re no longer comfortable with it. Start asking questions. If you feel as though you can’t, there are trust issues. The friendship may be on the line anyway. We shouldn’t feel vulnerable around true friends. For further reading on confusion see ‘To Be Human Is To Feel Confused At times‘.
Accept everyone for who they are. Allow each individual to dance to their own tune. It’s only when they start stepping on toes that we have to make adjustments.
Serious talks aren’t had because they’re enjoyed. You’re willing to place yourself on the line. Wanting to discuss a matter that’s playing on your mind.
When that’s ignored, over ruled or taken for granted, there is nothing you can do. One would have to question, how a relationship can continue under these circumstances.
When we hear “We need to talk” it should never make us defensive or place us on guard. These words don’t come from strangers. Someone you care deeply about has something on their mind and you’re involved. It’s a big statement saying you’re important to me.