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Having the difficult (and heartfelt) discuss at Christmas and throughout the year

1. Prepare for the conversation by spending some time developing an open heart. Ask yourself why you are having this conversation.

2. Have an outline in your head about what you want to talk about and your goals for having this discussion. Work at grounding yourself so that you don’t get confused about your goals.

3. Use only “I” statements like, “I feel”, “I think”.

4. Remember that no one makes you feel any particular way. You feel as you feel. Don’t say “when you do ____________, you make me feel”, rather say, “When you do __________, I feel__________”.

5. Do not blame the other person for how you feel or the situation that you find yourself in.

6. As much as possible, keep the emotion out of it. Express how you feel without screaming, crying, stomping out of the room. Clouding the conversation with emotion will make you focus on the emotion and not the task at hand.

7. Remember that they probably won’t agree with you at first. See if there is a way that you can come to a compromise.

8. Keep an open mind and an open heart. Make sure that you listen to what they have to say. You may even want to repeat back to them what you heard them say. Clarify, clarify, clarify. What someone says isn’t always what we hear.

9. Get curious. Ask questions. Keep the snarkiness out of it. Don’t bring up the past.

10. Trust that what you are saying is being heard. Remember that you always want to clarify with the person.

The most important things about communication are clarity, non-defensive listening and curiosity. What kills any communication is defensiveness, shutting down and assumptions. It is always important to consider that the other person will not be in the same place that you are. Your task is to lovingly move them to a higher position. The difficult conversation may be many conversations. You may need to take the high ground and, in the long run, is always the better place to be.

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