Ace the Conversation
Be prepared for anything
Getting ready and going in with confidence.
- Think about the best and worst case scenarios and consider how you might react to each. Preemptively wrapping your head around these situations will help reduce some of the shock if and when they actually happen.
- Consider when and where to have your conversation. When someone is rushing out the door on their way to work, they probably won’t be willing or able to give you their full attention.
- Tell a trusted friend or family member when you plan to start the conversation with someone. Be truthful, tell them about your worries, and ask if you can check in with them for support afterwards. You may even want to request that they call you to check in at a certain time.
- Have some ideas of where you can go to be alone or to meet a friend if your discussion doesn’t go as you hope. Also, have some ideas of when you can suggest continuing the conversation if you feel yourself losing control and need to take a break.
- If the person you’re talking with responds in an emotionally or physically violent way, remove yourself from the situation – and be sure and seek help from friends, family or professionals. Violence isn’t OK.
Do Your Research
Ways to avoid going in without backup.
- Go online or ask your healthcare provider for some relevant facts that you can site when you make your points. That way, you have research on your side and back up your feelings with facts.
- Talk to people who have been in your situation and learn how they handled it and made it safely to the other side.
- Talk to friends or family who know the people you are going to be talking to. They can give you insights on how they might react or how you can steer the conversation to a positive outcome.
A series of tips for keeping your cool.
- If you feel yourself boiling over, say something like “I need a second…” Then try and count backwards from ten before you react.
- Write down some self affirmations and read them to yourself when you practice and before you begin your conversation. Reassuring yourself that “You are informed” and “You can do this” can provide great comfort before an emotional talk.
- Do something that you love so you can find that “happy place” before your conversation. Go for a run. See a movie. Grab a cup of coffee with friends. Whatever makes you feel calm, collected and relaxed.
Choosing Your Words
Avoid saying something you wish you hadn’t.
- Someone may feel attacked if you use language like “You make me feel…” or “I hate when you…” Instead, put the emphasis on how their actions make you feel. Example: “When you say things like that to me, I feel like you don’t trust me to make decisions for myself.”
- Try to avoid saying things that will only add fuel to the fire. We often know people so well that we can pinpoint how to hurt them or push their buttons. Before you blurt out a un-take-backable blow, consider the consequences. It’s not going to help your case, so steer clear.
- Tell the truth. It may sound simple, but in the heat of an explosive conversation, lies (little white ones or big bad ones) have a tendency to poke through. Honesty is always the best policy, especially when you want others to be honest with you.
How to rehearse for the conversation stage.
- Try running through what you are going to say in front of a mirror. Seeing yourself say the words can help you be more prepared and natural when you have the conversation for real.
- Make a script of the points you want to make and try reciting them in different orders. You can never anticipate exactly how a conversation will go, so just make sure you know the things you definitely want to get across.
- Ask someone you trust to do a dry run with you. They can give you advice on how you’re coming across and pose questions and situations you may not have otherwise thought of.