I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people who really avoids difficult conversations. I mean, I avoid conflict like the freaking plague. I prefer to have nice, happy conversations if at all possible. If we’re being honest, this is a result of having experienced narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. It’s a very common issue that people experience as part of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD).
Unfortunately, avoiding confrontation isn’t always an option. Sometimes, you’ve just got to suck it up and have a tough conversation.
How to Have a Tough Conversation Without Ruining Everything
Effective communication is the cornerstone of great relationships. Whether you’re communicating with friends, family, coworkers, your partner, or even strangers, everything goes smoother with effective communication. You get more of what you want and the other party is happier too.
Even difficult conversations – when handled with grace and composure – can be beneficial to your relationships – at least the ones that don’t involve toxic narcissists.
Consider using these tips the next time you face a tough conversation with a neurotypical person.
- Face the issue as soon as possible. It’s tempting to put off difficult conversations. However, not dealing with the issues can make them worse. In addition, it can prolong the anger and resentment you feel. Find the courage to face the other person and make the conversation happen.
- Prepare before the conversation. Consider all aspects of your concerns. You may benefit from making a list of points you need to discuss. How will you address these issues? Try to find the heart of the issues, so you don’t get lost during the conversation. A good analysis can save you time and effort later.
- Decide what you want to accomplish. What is your ultimate goal with this conversation? It’s important to have clear goals in mind ahead of time so you can stay on topic. What kind of an outcome do you want? Do you want to see things change? In what way? Do you want the other person to apologize?
- Give yourself time to calm down before you discuss the issue. If you’re angry or hurt, it may not be the best time to talk. It’s more effective to enter a difficult conversation with a calm attitude. If you’re too hurt to see past the emotion, put off the conversation until later. Try to see the issues from multiple perspectives and the other side.
- Understand the importance of silence. Silence isn’t a bad thing during a difficult conversation. You don’t have to fill every minute with words. TIP: Silence can be used to give you both a break and a chance to figure out what to say next. It can help you analyze the previous words. Pauses can also help you both maintain calm.
- Watch your emotions. During the conversation, you’ll benefit from controlling your emotions. Focus on staying positive and calm. Controlling your emotions may not be easy, but it’s important. Difficult conversations can dissolve into madness if emotions take over. Try focusing on the other person’s feelings and the long-term impact of your behavior.
- Think about your relationship. Friends, coworkers, spouses, family members, and others have unique relationships with you. The way you talk to them will stay in their memory. Difficult conversations are easy to ignore, but ignoring them is a slippery slope into frustration. Instead of hiding from the issues, consider how you can resolve them. Your relationships will benefit greatly when you can work together to find solutions.
Learn to handle these tough conversations with grace and, over time, you’ll find fewer and fewer issues that you have to resolve. As you flow more naturally and become more diplomatic, the issues will become opportunities instead.
(That is, of course, unless you’re involved with a narcissist – in which case there are a whole other set of rules for dealing with conflict.)
Angela Atkinson is a certified trauma counselor and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery, and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships since 2006, she has a popular narcissistic abuse recovery YouTube channel. Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and has certifications in trauma counseling, life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation, and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy.
She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online.