Finding Balance Over Break: Tips for Having Difficult Conversations
Winter break can bring fun opportunities, but what happens when what you need is different from what others want from you? The following tips can help you understand your own needs and communicate with others effectively and with kindness.
Understand how you feel about a situation:
1. Consider your values and what’s important to you. Remember that sometimes two important values can conflict with one another (e.g. spending time with family may be an important value, and spending time by yourself or with friends can be other important values).
2. Take time to consider how YOU think and feel about a situation, and what is important to YOU. Talk with a trusted friend or write down your thoughts to sort out how you feel, how important something is to you, and your personal comfort with a situation.
3. Trust yourself. If you spent time understanding how you think and feel about a situation, then trust yourself. Nobody knows you, what you need, and what is most important to you better than you.
Speak with the person directly:
1. Choose a time and place for a private and unhurried conversation.
2. If the person is important to you, let them know that at the beginning of the conversation. “I really value our friendship, so I wanted to talk to you about something important…” can reduce defensiveness and create an opportunity for the person to really hear you.
3. Listen attentively to the other person and try to understand that person’s perspective. Remember that listening and understanding does not mean agreeing or condoning.
4. Consider alternative solutions or compromises that can work for you that you may not have previously considered. However, remember that if a situation makes you feel endangered, uncertain, or is inconsistent with your important values, it is okay to trust yourself, be assertive, and stick with what’s important to you.