Hard Conversations

For most people, it’s natural to go out of our way to avoid hard conversations. You know the ones that I’m talking about. I’m talking about the conversations we’re willing to make sacrifices to avoid. We’ll ignore our own wants and needs if it means we get to avoid that awkward topic, because addressing it would be too uncomfortable. But the truth is that all close relationships call for hard conversations from time to time. A close friend or a co-worker might make a comment that offends or upsets you. Your spouse might have a habit they don’t realize is hurtful to you. Maybe your kids have been really pushing the boundaries of your rules lately.

When things like that happen, it’s time for a hard conversation. You might find yourself wanting to ignore the situation and hope that it goes away on its own. You might want to suppress your own emotions out of a desire to avoid “rocking the boat.” You may even think that being a kind or nice person means that you shouldn’t address an issue when it arises.

However, I want to challenge you to try something different. If you’re in a situation where you know it’s time for a hard conversation, I encourage you to go for it. You may feel guilty as the conversation begins, but I believe that you’ll feel relieved once the conversation is finished. Obviously, there’s no guarantee that the outcome of the conversation will be what you’re hoping for, but even if you don’t end up getting exactly what you wanted, you will still feel a sense of relief from having expressed yourself.

As a person who is naturally very comfortable with confrontation, I can’t decide if I’m the perfect person to share this message or if I’m so naturally wired for confrontation that I am too flawed of a messenger. I know I don’t always “pick my battles” when it comes time for hard conversations. My son says that my style of confrontation is a perfect example of the saying, “When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” He says that anytime something feels off, my go-to advice is, “Confront! Confront! Confront!” There is definitely some truth to that, but I’m working on letting more things go as I get older and (hopefully!) wiser.

Whether you’re like me and are comfortable with hard conversations, or you’re more hesitant to jump into these tough situations, the truth is that if we don’t communicate what we want or need, we are much less likely to get it. In other words, if the people around you are doing or saying things that are hurtful to you, it’s time to speak up. You might find that they didn’t even realize the impact that they were having on you. There’s no way to know if that’s the case if you avoid having the conversation in the first place.

It can be scary and painful to discuss these topics, but if you move past those obstacles and talk about hard things, you are likely to finish the conversation with a better understanding of the other person. And they will likely have a better understanding of you. And once we know each other more fully, we are in a better position to love each other well. When we take the time to communicate our needs to the people around us, we’ll be winning more often at home.