Clearly you’re going to have to finally talk to that person about that thing. You know you are. And really, it could not be more uncomfortable.
You didn’t want to have the conversation to begin with — but now you have to and you’re dreading it. Bleargh.
Your stomach is all knotted up. Or maybe it’s your throat that’s feeling tight and constricted. Either way, your body is being pretty darn clear: “please don’t make me do this!”
What a pain. And there seems to be no way around it. You’re going to have to have the talk.
So how about eight ways to guarantee that you’ll screw it up completely and make the whole situation way, way worse than it has to be?
Maybe even as bad as you’re imagining … ugh.
Aren’t you glad you hang out here? I thought as much. Here we go.
8 tips to ensure this encounter is as awful and miserable as possible.
Always say “I feel” when you mean “I think”.
For example, “I feel like we’re not communicating.” Or, “I feel like you don’t understand me.”
Or, “I feel like you’re basically being a complete asshat.”
It’s good to be imprecise. Mixing up thoughts or judgments with emotions keeps relationships alive. You definitely want to make sure that no one knows for sure what you’re talking about or how to respond to it.
Say “I think” when you mean “I feel”.
Keep your cards close to your chest. Instead of connecting with real emotions, keep it all as cerebral as possible.
For example, don’t say “I feel frustrated and a little anxious when you say that I’m not ready for this new level of responsibility — because I’m really needing to know that I have your respect and trust.”
That’s way too honest. Instead say, “I think you’re wrong.” Or, “I think you should give me a chance.”
In fact, stay in your head altogether. Go nowhere near your heart.
If you stick only to saying “I think this” and “I think that”, the other person will be able to refute those points and you’ll be able to drag out the conversation so that it’s both longer and way more awkward.
You’ll think one thing. They’ll think something else in response and before you know it you’ll be in a nose-to-nose knock-down argument.
Or maybe you’ll be pretending everything is okay and then crying in the bathroom, it depends on your personal M.O.
Make sure you don’t start connecting to your heart because that could end the conflict much too early. You might even end up saying something really gentle that doesn’t hurt the other person’s feelings at all.
“You know, I’ve gotten so much from working with you, and now, after I took the time to meditate on our work relationship and asked my heart where we go from here, the information I got was that it’s time to restructure it. My heart says it’s time to step back and take a break and process all the useful information I’ve learned from you.
Of course I would never want to hurt your feelings, so I’m feeling kind of nervous about bringing this up, but that’s kind of where I am right now.”
Wow. If you said something like that, they wouldn’t be able to argue with you at all. They’d probably just ask you some questions and give you a hug, and then the conversation would be over. You certainly don’t want that.
Luckily, the next tip gives you an out if you’ve messed things up by being too centered, grounded and compassionate.
Give the other person way more information than they could possibly process or use.
Instead of telling them what your heart needs (which might result in meeting that need and resolving the situation), overload them with information.
Carefully enumerate each and every reason and thought-process that has been keeping you up at night. List all their flaws and the things they’ve done wrong that have made you resent them even though you used to like each other.
Everyone likes “constructive criticism”, especially when a situation hasn’t worked out just because two people happen not to be the right fit for a certain thing at a certain time.
They’re sure to want to know exactly why you have been avoiding this conversation, as well as every single thing they’ve done that has gotten on your nerves at some point.
Don’t do any prep.
Don’t waste any time breathing slowly or doing acupressure or using a couple of my Emergency Calming Techniques.
Just spend a couple sleepless nights agonizing over the whole thing, have a large glass of bourbon right before you’re about to have the talk, and then tear right into it.
It’s like pulling off a band-aid. So much easier that way, don’t you think?
Don’t do any alignment exercises.
For example, don’t bother thinking of ten things the two of you have in common, and writing them down.
You don’t want to start identifying with them and feeling empathy.
You certainly don’t want to be like a client of mine who did this, and then discovered accidentally that both she and the person she was avoiding talking to share all sorts of really unique and inspiring qualities.
In fact, she remembered that both of them were really gifted at seeing the way around stressful situations — turned out they were able to find the possibilities and the potential opportunities in any challenge.
My poor client ended up realizing that this person might just be the best possible person in the world to have this particular kind of uncomfortable conversation with. Then she totally stopped wanting to throw up.
Awful, right? Ugh.You don’t want to be her.
Don’t mention what you need.
And don’t bring any attention to it if it comes up either. Stating needs is for pussies.
You don’t want to give the other person a way to start identifying with you and wanting to meet you halfway.
Even worse, you might end up asking yourself for some patience and compassion.
From there it’s a slippery slope to even more awful, embarrassing things. Like being willing to like yourself even though you’re a human being who makes mistakes. Please, let us never speak of this again.
Don’t read these articles
I’ve written a bunch of stuff about communication and relating to people, god knows why. I was probably drunk on yoga or something. Ignore all of it.
- Recovery from a criticism hit and run
- A communication breakdown and an emergency calming technique
- 6 tips for dealing with uncomfortable situations
- Bubble bursting joy suckers and what to do about them
- Curing phone call dread
- Book recommendations for resources that help with conflict and communication breakdown situations
That’s all I’ve got.
Good luck with that.
[Ed. Oh for the love of all that is good. You try and take one lousy day off and then your duck writes your post. Note to self: keep Selma away from the computer.]