How to Have Difficult Conversations With Friends
Navigating through a tough conversation? Be grateful for the gift of friends who disagree with you
Let’s face it, it takes us completely aback when we realize we’re imperfect beings prone to error in judgment. Who actually likes being told they’re wrong? Sometimes, it can feel like a direct attack but truth be told, most of the time, we’ve known these things about ourselves all along. It just takes the loving—and gentle—rebuke of a friend to take small yet substantive steps towards emotional and mental maturity.
A lot of the conversations we’re having now are uncomfortable yet necessary. Amid such an impassioned climate, our unfiltered thoughts are put out in the open whether it highlights our thoughts on politics, our personal belief systems and more. If we lived in a perfect world, there would be no need for confrontation, and we’d go on our days blissfully ignorant. But then that would take from the important healing needed to be done.
Social media is an incredibly convenient tool to evade confrontation. One can easily publish an emotionally fueled 280-character rant hinting on friends or contacts, hoping they’d eventually catch on. This just adds fuel to the fire—especially once “receipts” are taken.
Sounding off to others who aren’t involved doesn’t help either, especially when you’re just hoping for somebody to take your side. It just takes away from wanting to deal with the situation. Suppressing your deep-seated issues for a long time adds unnecessary weight until it gets too heavy to carry. Communicate.
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Consider their mental space.
It’s incredibly important to discern when it’s the right time to have “the talk” on both ends. Are you in a calm, composed mental space where you can carry out a productive conversation without it becoming a fight? Is your friend going through something that might make your dialogue feel like an attack? If you need to sleep on it—for that seething anger to subside—let them know, before you say words you can’t take back and make matters worse.
It’s also crucial not to take their past traumas against them. If you were given sensitive information as a trusted confidante, keep it to yourself because you might just open wounds. And most importantly, when you’ve both already dealt with an issue from the past, don’t bring it back or use it to reinforce your point.
Be comfortable with being wrong.
Feelings are not facts. It’s our knee-jerk reaction to be defensive and reactive but take into consideration all sides—and the possibility of being wrong or simply misunderstood. And when you realize you’ve made a mistake, humble yourself and apologize. An ego bruised stings for a moment, but believe it or not, you eventually get over it.
It’s wise to choose your battles especially in personal relationships. Then again, it’s better to talk it out than simply shutting these feelings out. When you do, learn when to take a step back when things are too heated, learn to apologize and give grace. We’re all learning along the way.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver