We Need To Talk

How Do You Respond To – “We Need To Talk”?

“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: –

  • Anger.
  • 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.

The Avoider.

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”.

RELATED:  5 Easy Steps For Having A Hard Conversation.

We Need To Talk.

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

We Need To Talk

Couple share.

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.

Examples: –

  • 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.

Different views.

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.

In conclusion

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.

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13 Comments

  1. I really appreciate this post and notice you have other posts on having difficult conversations that I will be reading. This is really hard for me and always has been. I tend to avoid confrontation at any cost which I am aware is not good. It’s something I really struggle with but this has given me some tips and ideas to ponder. I admire people so much who can just come right out and say what is troubling them. Thank you for writing this!

    • Hey Colleen,

      It’s your first time to my blog so welcome.

      Sounds as though your aim is working towards being able to express yourself openly and honestly. Firstly you have to look at the reasons why you feel you can’t. Even write these down. Say it like it is. You can’t work on yourself if you’re not willing to confront the truths that are deep within you. Say for instance you don’t like confrontation due to the fact that family members used to abuse power and never let you have your say. And when you did it was never taken with any great seriousness. This turned into a habit and life went on.

      Then go in search of all the different strategies that you may be able to apply to your life. In my post Superhero Strengths to the Emotional Rescue, I touch on this area further.

      Let me know if you would like to get into the nitty gritty of confrontation.

      Rachel.

  2. Hi Rachel

    Another compelling and insightful post. I recall some years back calling my then husband on the telephone telling him he needed to get his….home because we need to talk. Of course I was not a Christian back then and honestly, I was in a rage.

    He did not come as soon as I wanted him to so I got in my vehicle, left home and when I caught up with him I began to chase him down in my car. We both came to a stop when his car landed into a light pole. Thankfully his life was spared but I shared my testimony as a way of showing what our approach to others with just those few words can do in terms of escalating a situation to the point of destruction and God forbid, death.

    It is never good to entertain conversations like these when one or both person is angry. You have shared some very helpful and practical ways for one to prepare for a ‘we need to talk’ conversation

    Great job! Thanks for sharing.

    • Hey Yvonne,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I bet when you look back, you see how much you have grown. That experience helped you to where you are today. It’s an example of how things can spin out of control really fast when anger builds.

      You do sound like a woman on a mission in your story. Approachable most of the time, but in the flick of a moment you turn into action woman. You will address what has to be addressed.

      Your right Yvonne these conversations should never be had when either person is fueled with rage. Even uncomfortable conversations can be managed at the right time. The most unbalanced person can receive a message without losing it, given the right time, place and tone of voice.

      Preparation for such talks is to ensure we finish what we start, get the message across and allow the other person to absorb what has been said. The better we get at expressing ourselves and our needs the better we are able to deliver the message. Thanks for your comments.

      Rachel.

  3. Hey Rachel,
    I guess for me ‘We need to talk’ depends on the tone someone is delivering at the time. I can sound promising or concerning. I love that you have posted this because it is the reason for many breakdowns. Lack of communication and I think what is worse is that putting another’s feeling’s before ours is part of the reason a lot of people don’t communicate. They are too worried about what might happen so they do nothing-which is worse!

    I think sometimes it is Okay to say nothing, but if it is a subject that keeps coming up and we don’t address, it just can keep growing.

    I love the essence that this post conveys as it encourages us to be more open and realizing it’s okay to not feel okay about things. -Jennifer
    Jennifer Giacoppo recently posted…‘How to get more out of your day-Yes please!’My Profile

    • Hey Jennifer,

      I agree the tone, the body language, the facial expression are all factors when we communicate. Lack of communication erodes friendships, families, partnerships. Poor communication skills, lack of self awareness and blame have a way of really knocking relationships about.

      Preempting how another will react is a contributing factor why people won’t share how they feel. Worried that the answer to the tough stuff won’t be what we want to hear. The list is endless. That can all be overcome by setting up times to discuss everything.

      It’s up to the individual how much they want to divulge. Although I do encourage sharing as much as possible, honestly it’s freeing. Not the nasty stuff. We all want to lash out at times. But things that linger in the mind. Like you said they can keep growing if not addressed.

      Thanks for your wonderful comments.

      Rachel.

  4. Hi, Rachel

    I agree with you, the common reaction to the statement “we need to talk” is defensive and thinking of the worst may be coming.
    The success of communication from “we need to talk” depends heavily on the altitude of person on each side – respect, cool, eager to see the issue and find the solution for it.
    Problem arises when defensive altitude, anger, and misunderstanding present in either party.
    If you put for “we need to talk” to the opposite party, but don’t want too. There is no ground for communication and improvement. It is time to move on.

    Enjoy the post. will share

    Stella Chiu
    Stella Chiu recently posted…You can Free from Asthma for Good almost EffortlesslyMy Profile

    • Hey Stella,

      So true Stella, when one party has no interest in talking, it really is time to move on. This conversation would fall on deaf ears. One person is not looking for a resolution but an end date. Sometimes we just need to move on.

      Even when, “We Need To Talk” comes out pleasantly it has people walking on egg shells. Doing quick calculations in their mind. People feel cornered. This statement really does get a bad wrap.

      It would be wonderful to say we communicate well all of the time. However in reality that is not always the case. A balanced attitude will have both parties showing respect, great listening and communication skills.

      The post shares many tips on how to prepare for important talks because as we are nothing more than human, things won’t always go as planned.

      Rachel.

  5. Hi Rachel,

    Ahhh yes. The talks. You’ve brought up a topic I think a good number of us can relate to.
    I’ve been on both sides, as I’m sure you and plenty of others have as well.

    From the receiving end of it, I’ve found it’s helpful to be ready to accept whatever it is that’s about to be said. If I do this, I’m not in a defensive state and I’ll listen.

    It took a while, but I’ve gotten to a place where I know one of two things can happen. Either I’ll have to accept responsibility for something, or I’ll point something out to the person who has a perspective different than my own.

    Now if I’m the one who “needs to talk”, I’ll approach it and ask if there’s a good time (and I’ll offer a timeframe) – like anytime before _____. To me, timing is everything because if someone isn’t in a good place, it could ruin things right away.

    I’ve personally found I have a more difficult time if I’m the one needing to talk vs the other way around because while I can control my own reactions, I can’t control someone else’s.

    Regardless, it does help to know that things can turn out in any way imaginable.
    Dana recently posted…Our Thoughts and Beliefs – Are They True?My Profile

    • Hey Dana,

      Delivering, “We Need To Talk” means you have something on your mind and are prepared to express it. Laying yourself on the line. There’s a vulnerability to the discussion at your end. I’ve always found this brave.

      Your approach while being on the receiving end of “We Need To Talk” is a great way of investing yourself (ready to accept whatever it is that’s about to be said). That being said Dana, you have already done many hard yards, so being open and allowing another person to express themselves would be something you would encourage. Remaining open and approachable.

      Doesn’t it feel good to accept yourself and others. Embracing difference and comfortable not having to agree. That’s emotional intelligence at its best.

      Its a great idea Dana – Giving a person a timeframe to come and have a chat.

      Good to see you back on social media.

      Rachel.

  6. Wow Rachel!

    What a great topic!! When someone tells me “We need to talk” I want to hide under my bed. That is my knee jerk reaction. But over the years I’ve learned to take a deep breath and go face to face of what is to come.

    If the person seems angry, I will delay the response. OK…how is three o’clock for you or tomorrow? I won’t get sucked into drama or anger.

    But on the other hand if it is a serious kind of energy…I do agree, but keep on reminding myself not to take in words emotionally. I take my time to answer if there is a problem. And…If I can’t I just tell the person. “I don’t know what to say…give me a moment…”

    This topic is not talked about much but it sure is important.

    -Donna
    Donna Merrill recently posted…3 Steps To Selecting A Blogging NicheMy Profile

  7. Hi Rachel

    You know this post is so awesome. Sometimes we tend to ignore the most important things. When a friend or loved one says ” We need to Talk”, I believe that the signal to give such conversation your full attention.

    However, having time to discuss will reduce some of the controversial issues. As you shared, couples should learn to share things together. That was ease tension.

    Thanks for sharing. Take Care

    • Hey Ikechi,

      Since writing this post, I have heard the ‘We need to talk’ so many times. Chatting away and in movies.

      Sometimes we take for granted, our close friends and family. Not meaning to, not consciously, but life gets busy. The alarm rings off when we hear ‘we need to talk’. So I agree we must give such conversations our full attention.

      Not all communication will finish off positive. Other conversations will end in stale mate. But allowing someone we respect to air their concerns and have us listening without being defensive will certainly help them off load.

      Rachel.

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