It’s Gonna Hurt: How to Have Awkward Conversations | Friendship


JDifficult conversations are easy to push back, but dodging them only makes it harder. It’s often something that could make life easier or better, but the fact that the exchange could be embarrassing or difficult for one or both parties is a big hurdle.

Remembering a few ground rules might make things easier. First: it’s a two-way thing. It’s not just about you – the other person may also be nervous, uncertain, defensive, scared or unhappy.

Then choose your moment. If it’s someone you know, think about their communication style. If they don’t like being caught off guard, let them know you need a chat and tell them what it’s about. It’s always best to have a sensitive conversation in person, but if you’re using an email or text to organize the conversation or to clarify issues later, be very careful with the wording; be as impartial as possible. Before hitting send, read the email and imagine how you would feel if you received it.

For the conversation itself, be sure to be in a good mood. And be prepared for a curve ball. If the other person brings unexpected factors into the mix, park the cat for a while.

Finally, always leave the meeting after agreeing on what will happen next. And as unsatisfying as it was, resist throwing your toys out of the pram. Saying you’re going to hand in your resignation, or never speak to them again, or trade insults, is guaranteed to make an already difficult situation toxic.

Ask for a raise

You want to do it, but you’re terrified. Ask yourself why, says an executive career and leadership coach Denise Chilton. If you’re worried about talking to your boss, unpack it. “A lot of people think the stakes are higher when talking to an older person, but why should that be?”

The key is figuring out how much you want and going into the conversation thinking you’re worth it. “What added value do you bring to your organization? Did you take on additional responsibilities or learn new skills? The key, she says, is to talk about the value you bring.

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Women, in particular, often need a confidence boost, so think of it like this: if you end up leaving, your employer will likely spend more to replace you. So the extra £3,000 you’re asking for is good value for money compared to the £5,000 they’ll spend recruiting and training someone new.

If you’re told there’s no extra money in the chests, think about the whole package. Try: “OK, but I’d like to continue working two days a week from home and get some additional job training.” And set a date when your business box review your pay.

Complain in a restaurant

Any restaurant worth eating will want to know if you’re unhappy, says Mandy Yin, chef/owner of London’s Sambal Chiok. But speak up right away – don’t eat the dish and complain about it afterwards. “Be accommodating, never aggressive,” advises Yin. “Remember that servers are people and sugar is always better than vinegar. Don’t just run off saying how bad it is; give staff a chance to explain why something is as it is. If something doesn’t taste right, it might just be too salty or something else for your taste. But the restaurant should be sensitive to that, take it away and bring you an alternative It’s the same with wine: if you order a glass of something and realize right away that you don’t like it, any good restaurant will replace it.

Photography: Richard Drury/Getty Images

Talk to neighbors about a problem

Don’t underestimate the value of friendly, supportive neighbours, says mediator Dr. Tracy Towner of Normanton Chambers, who says some of his toughest mediations involve disputes between neighbors. Good neighbors are the holy grail: go a hundred miles before you argue with them. “Once, I said to this person: how did it start? Tell me the story – and they couldn’t even remember it. But these are people’s homes, so emotions run high. So how do you deal with the overfilled recycling bins/the uncut hedge/the falling fence?

“Bring it to light — allude to the problem without criticizing,” says Towner. So, for example: “I can’t believe it’s that time of year again: the hedges are growing.” Or: “Why doesn’t the town hall give us more trash cans: I can’t crush any more.” Another ploy is to model the behavior you expect from your neighbors. Cut your own hedge, fix your own fence, and chat with them as you do it.

With tougher issues — late-night noise, barking dog, reckless parking — Towner advises you practice before you move: “The trickier the conversation, the harder you need to practice.” But a good ploy is, again, to turn it on yourself – don’t be accusatory, be contrite. “Can I check that we didn’t disturb you with our music the other night?” often leads to the response: “Oh not at all – I hope you don’t hear ours either.” And then you can say very quietly, “Well, sometimes you hear it – the walls are so thin in these houses.”

Talk to your partner about sex

The best way forward, says senior sex and relationship therapist Ammanda Major, is to approach this as one half of a team — and never be accusatory. So instead of “you don’t make me cum anymore,” try, “I’ve always enjoyed having orgasms with you, and I think our sex life would be better if I found a way to enjoy them more.” »

The last thing you want to do here is inflict blame or shame. And pick your moment. “Don’t have this conversation when you’re in bed or when you’re angry or upset,” Major says. “Be curious. What would your partner like? How are they feeling?” It’s the most important chat you should have in person.

Deal with someone who disturbs in public transport

It’s very tricky: there’s already at least one emotional person here, and things could easily spiral out of control. Should I say something? Or is it better to call the driver/guard/police? If you weigh, says Towner, stay neutral and calm as a pond. “The last thing you should do is say something like ‘That’s ridiculous’ or ‘Stand back now,'” says Towner. “Try, ‘Hey, is there something going on here?’ Ask for information – ‘what happened?’ ‘is something bothering you?’ – because then the person has to stop what they are doing and respond to you.

Remind someone they owe you money

Ideally, says Marc Hekster, consultant clinical psychologist at summit clinic and Fellow of the British Psychological Society, don’t lend money in the first place – or if you do, lend it knowing you may not get it back. But we live in the real world, and splitting an Uber or store bill could mean you owe someone money.

The easiest, he says, is to create a PayPal account and verify that they have one; then all they need is your phone number, and they can pay from their phone. Email or text can be helpful for this conversation – that way you can remind them of the information they need. Try something like: “I just wanted to verify that you have my bank details/mobile number so you can send me this money.”

Try to figure out why you weren’t paid: you don’t want to harass anyone or make them feel guilty. Maybe they’re having trouble or just forgot, in which case they won’t be bothered by a prompt.

Asking someone to clean up after their dog

It’s really tricky, say our experts. There’s no point in having an awkward conversation unless you believe you can get the outcome you want: and really, why would someone who’s already ignored widespread social convention AND all the signs in the park pick up their dog poop just because you ask him nicely?

But there are ways. If you’re walking your own dog, “you might be overdoing the fact that you’re cleaning up after your dog,” says a consulting psychologist. Emma Lemon, “but it’s very difficult to change someone’s behavior about it.” If you say something, make it as less emotional as possible. Try asking him if he’s out of bags. If you walk your own dog, you can offer him one of your own. If you’re confronting yourself, apologizing, try, “I’m sorry to have to say this, and I know it’s incredibly embarrassing, but the kids use this park, and I can’t help but notice that you don’t haven’t cleaned up your dog’s mess. .”

Refuse an invitation

Don’t get bogged down in a complex, convoluted story of why you can’t make it happen, is Hekster’s advice; keep it simple and generally truthful. That said, this is a scenario where a little white lie can’t go wrong. Better to say you have a prior commitment than you just don’t feel like doing it. “We all have busy lives and people understand that you can’t do everything,” Hekster says.

Covid seems a bit tired as an outing (unless that’s true, of course). And if it’s something you can’t bring yourself to do, honesty might be the best way to go. Something like, “That’s a great idea, but I never liked camping and I don’t think I want to do it again.” Is there anything else we could arrange? »


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