You can find the Difficult Conversations article here:
http://reidaboutsex.com/difficult-conversation-formula/ (not safe for all work places, with lots of other juicy content)
https://theintimacydojo.com/difficult-conversations/ (safe for work, with other articles about intimacy).
Reid: You can call me reidaboutsex.
Cathy: Yeah, it’s just shorter. It saves time.
Reid: My last name’s dot com.
Cathy: So, Reid has an amazing article on difficult conversations and how to have them. They’re really effective on opening up conversations in a relationship of any kind, whether it’s romantic or not, and saying the things that haven’t been said and getting all of the landmines out of your relationship.
Reid: Well, I don’t know about all the landmines, but—
Cathy: –getting a bunch of them out.
Reid: Yeah, well, and thank you. It’s a good formula for practicing how to initiate difficult conversations when you’re in relationships, and I think it’s what’s not being said that’s destroying your relationships, which also includes the positives, the affirmations, the acknowledgements, and those withheld positive things over long term relationships are also very difficult for folks.
Reid: But certainly the negative things that you’re not saying are—
Cathy: The things you’re afraid of …
Cathy: So I put the link for your article below the video so people can find it. Can you give a brief synopsis of the article?
Reid: Sure, what you do — it’s not a long article. I can’t write them. The idea is that it’s fear that’s keeping us from saying things, and we don’t necessarily have a way to initiate difficult conversations, and so in the absence of a particular formula or a script, and combined with the fear, most people just get stumped. If you figure out what you’re afraid of, and what you actually want to say, it starts to become a little bit easier, and if you figure out what you’re trying to create by sharing the thing that you want to share, it creates context, which can be really useful when you’re surprising somebody with new information.
The idea with the difficult conversation formula is you literally write down or type out what it is you’re not saying; what you’re afraid might happen if you say it, two or three things; what you’d like to have happen by sharing blank; and then what you do is your rearrange the formula. So you go to your partner or your boss or your mother-in-law or whatever, and you go, “Mom, there is something I’m not saying. What I’m afraid of and why I’m not telling you is A, B and C. I’m afraid that you’ll hate me even more because you’re my mother-in-law and I’m not your child. I’m afraid that you’ll never come visit us again when your daughter loves you so much, and I’m afraid that you’re going to just bad mouth me all over Facebook. What I’d like to have happen by telling you this is that you know that I’ll never lie to you, or if I do lie I’ll come clean as quickly as possible, so I want you to be able to trust me, I want you to know that your daughter is in good hands, and hopefully by me being honest with you it’ll deepen the intimacy and the connection that we have, even though we don’t love each other.”
I’m playing on the typical stereotype of mother-in-laws. No offense if you’re a mother-in-law. I’m not a mother-in-law-ist. So then when you say what you’re afraid of, what you’d like to have happen, and then you say, “And what I’m not telling you is your daughter and I are going to never have children and so you will never have grandkids.” Whatever that is. When you have that script and once you practice it a little bit, it’s a lot easier to get the ball rolling and let the cat out of the bag. Once you get really good with this, you can actually, when you sense hesitation for sharing something, you can actually do this in your head and be like, “Okay, what am I not staying, what am I afraid of? What do I want to create.” And you can be like, “Oh.” And you can actually have — initiate difficult conversations on the fly.
Cathy: The first time I went through the proce… Reid has great step-by-step instructions in the article, and I actually had a conversation with you I wanted to hold and I was like [makes scared noises] so I went thought that and I actually emailed it to him and we went through it, and it was really helpful to have it written out because I was nervous.
Cathy: And it went great.
Cathy: But the first few times can be kind of nerve-racking, it’s not how we’re taught to talk in our society.
Reid: Yeah. And you can use the same formula for emails too. Once you write things out, you do want to change the order, because me sharing what I’m afraid of, what I’d like to create, and then sharing what I’m not sharing, that helps create some context and it allows people to see or sense what your intention is, what you’re actually going for, that can be really helpful in written communications as well. And then the only thing you have to prepare yourself for is that people for who you are initiating difficult conversations, it might actually be difficult for them.
Cathy: Right. Or you can train them, they learn over time that you’re going to do this and that can actually be reassuring, but the first time, like, “Hi, I want to talk to you about something.” We’re like, “Oh, God.”
Reid: Well, hello, anybody if you go to, “Um, we need to talk.” Everybody goes into that detention, “I’m getting called down to the principal office” place and no one thinks it’s a good thing. Especially me. You know, “Reid, we need to talk.” I’m like, “What did I do wrong?”
Cathy: Yeah. And I found just going through the process other times, sometimes it gave me clarity and it kind of changed the way I was holding it, so when I did have the conversation with someone, it was in a totally different space. I wasn’t as triggered, I wasn’t as caught up in it. I was like, “Yeah, I want to share this with you.” But a lot of the intensity was already gone.
Reid: Yeah, once you get things out in the open and out of your head, they have a lot less power, you have more clarity, and then once you practice this conversation style a couple of times, you actually start to build into your relationships, “Oh, we can have difficult conversations.” The other important thing is that you’re role-modeling for the people around you, “This is how you can come to me.” And then when you’re having those difficult conversations, there’s less eggshells to walk on, because a lot of that stuff has already been dealt with.
Cathy: Yeah, it’s like you get it over it and it clears a space and you have a different relationship that’s really powerful.
Cathy: Leave comments below and check out Reid’s article.
More articles on improving your communication and relationship skills:
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