Say What You Mean

We all have conflicts from time to time. If there’s emotion attached, trying to say what you want can be very difficult. We don’t wish to come across as wimpy, but at the same time, we know that being too much of a bulldozer will likely not have the effect we may desire. So what to do?

The first step is to be very clear on what you are feeling. Try to understand why you are upset, confused or hurt in the first place. If your issue is really with your older sibling and not the person in front of you, clear off any projection you’re doing. Be certain the main conflict is really the issue at hand, and not leftover personal baggage from when you were ten. Assess what is going on, what the problem is, and what result you want. If you want to keep the friendship, you need to be very careful with what you say and how you say it. If it’s conflict number 562, it just might be time to ‘release’ that friend. Don’t be afraid to ‘fire’ a friend; life is too short to keep negative, aggressive, insulting people in your life. Unless you’re related to them, let them go.

(Sometimes we can even ‘fire’ relatives but that’s usually much harder on everyone else.)

We have the right to choose our friends and partners. You should be bringing out the very best in each other, not the worst, at least for 80% of the time. Nobody’s perfect, not even you. So here’s what to try. You likely know some of these techniques, but you also may just need a reminder.

1. Use “I” messages. They can’t be denied. For example, “I’m confused by what you said the other day, or “I’m feeling upset by that.” The person can’t say, “No you’re not.” when you use an ‘I’ message.

2. Ask for clarification. I can’t tell you how many ‘scenarios’ were from a misunderstanding, not any real truth. Try, “What did you mean by….”

3. Find your ‘vision’ in the process. What do you want? For example, “I thought we were going to that concert together. Did you already have plans with Frank? Can we all go or is there something else we can go to?”

4. Keep your emotions and reactions calm. Anger won’t help the situation. Breathe…..relax….and then breathe again. There’s some wisdom in the old ‘count to ten’ method.

5. Don’t be passive…. “Oh, whatever you want is ok.” or aggressive….”I know best and you should do what I’m suggesting.” Be assertive.

“I know that I want to go to Ottawa this weekend. It’s what we discussed. I’ll go ahead and we can plan something else for next weekend.”

Believe in yourself, use “I” messages, be clear and stay strong!

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