Have you ever felt anxious about an upcoming talk - one whose outcome you can’t predict? One that makes you feel edgy or jittery all day, unable to focus on other things? Maybe you were planning to talk through something difficult with someone important - perhaps the status of your relationship, your reaction to a betrayal, or your apology for breaking a promise. You have to tell a parent that you won’t be able to visit when they want you to. You need to ask your partner to change the way they’ve been treating you. Or maybe it’s much more mundane: Your child got into a fight at school and you need to talk to them, to help them understand what went wrong.
No matter what the purpose of the upcoming Big Talk, some things don’t change, and some communication strategies can almost always help. Here are seven basic ideas, elaborated where possible, about how to keep your difficult conversations open, clear, directed, and productive.