Everyday there seems to be something in the world happening that is really hard to deal with. Whether it be racial injustices, shootings, war on other countries, politics and so much more, these things are not easy to deal with, let alone talk about, and they all impact us in different ways. As much as it would be easier for us to ignore or pretend like nothing is going on, that’s not the reality we live in.
We are living in a time where these very sensitive issues are entering into our homes, work places, and everyday conversations. These issues are delicate, heartfelt, yet also provoke emotions such as anger, disappointment, frustration, and sadness.
People want their voices to be heard and changes to happen. Yet, it’s no secret that everyone doesn’t think the same and have differences in what they believe the solutions should be. These differences can make having conversations difficult.
Avoiding difficult conversations doesn’t make them go away, and having them can substantially improve our lives. Many people don’t engage with difficult conversations because they don’t know how to have them. We tend to get so overwhelmed with fear of how we will be received or that there’s a difference in opinions/beliefs, that it can cut off communication or make it so that we don’t feel seen or heard while at the same time not hearing or seeing others.
Do you find yourself struggling to find the words to say in these situations?
Do you fear that your difference in opinion will back you into a corner when speaking about these types of hot topics?
If so; you aren’t alone! You don’t have to feel like you can’t speak your mind and I’m here to help you engage in difficult conversations regarding what’s currently happening in the world today!
Below are some helpful points that can help with difficult conversations that need to happen with your family or partner or work, or how to express yourself following an upsetting event in the world.
How To Have Conversations About World Issues:
- Have a goal in mind about what you want to share, but be flexible: Going into conversations aware of your desired outcome helps with your intentionality, especially if you can state it outright, such as “I just want support” or “I would like to come up with solutions that may help”. This helps set the tone for your audience to make sure that what you are sharing is heard and helps them to best support your needs.
- Engage in self care that is planned for afterwards: It’s difficult sharing your viewpoints on controversial topics. It takes a lot for someone to be able to express their feelings knowing that they may be met with opposition from loved ones. Getting important points off your chest can take some of the weight off your shoulders but you may feel like it’s exhausting if your point doesn’t get met with the same enthusiasm that you have. Taking the time to recenter and focus on yourself through self care after these difficult conversations can help make a difference. A lot of people feel stress when talking about difficult topics so finding ways to take care of yourself afterward will help minimize some of those negative internal emotions.
- Practice active listening: It’s important to feel like you can share your thoughts but it’s equally as important to make sure you are also actively listening to what others have to say about their viewpoints regarding the same topic. It’s healthy to engage in conversation which involves hearing and processing what others may have to say. You don’t always have to agree with what others have to share but actively listening is so important in every conversation with others because it shows you care and respect the person you are speaking with.
- Is there anything that you can do that will help you feel more in control? Actively ask yourself this as it will help you mentally check-in to make sure you haven’t lost control of yourself emotionally and physically. Feeling in control of your emotions and thoughts is incredibly important especially when speaking about something that others may disagree with you on that is important to you.
- Use I statements: I statements help people to feel less “attacked” and they help to make sure the points you are trying to make get perceived in a positive tone. When speaking about topics that are controversial it’s important to think about how you are going to express your thoughts to others in a way that they will not only hear you but also consider what you have to say without feeling like they need to be on the defense.
- Be curious about what the other person or people have felt or experienced about this topic: This is important because being curious as to why someone thinks or feels a certain way really tells a lot about someone. Maybe it’s past experiences that have brought them to where they stand on a certain topic. Maybe it’s something that has personally affected this person or someone they love which makes them feel strongly even if it doesn’t agree with your viewpoint. Having the ability to be empathetic and curious as to why others feel the way they do shows you care about others even if you don’t see eye to eye on the same topic.
- Recognize when you need to take a break: If you feel like the conversation is going nowhere, begins to get heated or someone is starting to take offense to what is being shared it’s ok to take a break. We won’t always agree on everything. That doesn’t make you right or wrong. Sometimes it’s best to agree to disagree until you can both come back to the table when emotions aren’t high to further discuss in a way that you both feel heard even if resolution/coming to the same conclusion isn’t the end goal.
There is no particular order in which to practice using these tips. I hope they are helpful as you navigate difficult conversations with loved ones. We live in a world where controversial things are happening daily and it’s healthy to engage in conversations with others. There are ways to discuss difficult topics even if you don’t see eye to eye on things.
If you find yourself struggling to have conversations with others who may not agree with your viewpoints and notice it having a negative impact on your relationship, Solid Foundations Therapy is here to help! Visit our website at www.solidfoundationstherapy.com or give us a call at 630-633-8532 today!