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How To Handle Difficult Conversations With Dignity

How to Handle Difficult Conversations with Dignity

No one likes to talk about divorce, especially when it’s happening to you. There are so many difficult conversations to be had when going through a divorce. There is the conversation about dissolving the marriage, about telling the kids, about what you’ll do with the house, how you’ll divide finances, about lawyers, about future partners, where the kids will go to school, who keeps the wedding china and all the inevitable fights in between. When it comes to difficult conversations, it’s important to be self aware, this can make the difference between a conversation and full-blown argument. Read on for our tips on how to handle difficult conversations with dignity.

Body Language Speaks Volumes

If you’re preparing yourself for a difficult conversation, it’s important to focus on your body language as well as what you actually plan to say. Posture plays a huge role in how others perceive us. Thus, it’s very important to keep this in mind when speaking to someone about a topic that might be unpleasant to both parties. For example, crossing your arms puts a physical barrier between you and the other person. This may make you seem reserved and stand offish. Try keeping your arms at your sides and folded in your lap if you are sitting down. This makes you appear more open to the conversation. As well, focus on your facial expressions. It’s known that “we internalise how [another] person is feeling by mirroring that person’s facial expression in our own”. As such, if you are scowling and looking ready for a fight, it’s likely the other party will mirror this behaviour. Try to keep your face neutral throughout the conversation.

Find A Neutral Environment

If you are given time to prepare for a difficult conversation this is a very important aspect to consider. It’s best to have difficult conversations in a neutral place where no party will feel threatened. We don’t necessarily mean a public place as this can add even more stress if you run into someone you know or become too emotional. A neutral place can mean your kitchen table or living room – anywhere that does no create a power imbalance. It’s also important to plan the conversation at a time when you won’t feel rushed or stressed if you do become emotional. No one wants to have a difficult conversation first thing in the morning before their commute to work. Overall, consider both parties when deciding when and where to have a difficult conversation and plan to make the environment as soothing as possible.

Know When to Walk Away from A Difficult Conversation

Often, knowing when to walk award for a difficult conversation is more important than getting the last word. However, there is a fine line between knowing when a conversation has become an argument and just walking away from conflict because of your ego. You know a conversation has turned to a fight when logic is replaced by emotion and both parties are trying to prove to the other why they are “right”. This is toxic. An argument comes from a place of winner-takes all. There is no common ground and no way both parties are going to leave the conversation feeling satisfied. If this has happened, it’s time to walk away. Here are a few suggestions on how to end the argument in a manner that will allow you to revisit the issues when both parties calm down:

  • “I think this is a really important issue and we need to find a solution that works for both of us. Let’s take sometime to think about our positions and meet back in a few days to continue this conversation”;
  • “Thanks for raising this issue. I am currently feeling overwhelmed by my emotions and do not think I can talk about this logically right now. Can I have a few days to collect my thoughts and we can continue this conversation later?”; or
  • “You might be right. I need sometime to review what we have discussed. Can we take a break from this conversation and revisit it soon?”.

By acknowledging the other party, you make them feel heard and thus, they are more likely to compromise with you in the future.

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Disclaimer: The content provided in the blog posts of Jones Divorce & Family Law is general information and should not be considered legal advice. Please contact a lawyer for legal advice tailored to your specific situation. All articles are current as of their original publication date.