Snap! Difficult Conversations

In the next chapter of our new book, Snap Strategies for Couples: 40 Fast Fixes for Everyday Relationship Pitfalls, Dr. Pepper and I cover communicating, and communicating in a healthy way, in a relationship. Enjoy another sample!

Make an important conversation short, and front-load it with your most precious, heartfelt message. One of the greatest challenges facing any couple is attempting to understand and help each other under intense stress. It is normal for people to have their own way of experiencing, understanding, or denying problems. When situations arise that require teamwork, stresses can divide you. The more emotionally difficult the topic, the more likely it is to lead to confusing, rambling, and alienating conversations.

We have found that most couples can ease these awkward conversations by following a formula to help them understand each other. Writing out what you want to accomplish during the conversation helps separate your thoughts and feelings and sidebars so that your message doesn’t get lost. In order to keep on track, think about what you want to say without explanation, emotion, or justification. Then write it out and practice delivering the message to your partner. Success is most likely if your speech is 50 words or less. We know that it is hard not to explain, justify, or even blame, but shorter is sweeter, more powerful, and precise and much easier to understand, resolve, and move forward from.

There are hard conversations in every relationship. We think preparation for “the big issue” can make it possible to have a breakthrough. Would you ever go in to any important meeting without thoughtful preparation? When you feel strongly about something and you think your partner doesn’t get it, or doesn’t want to get it, your frustration and anger may cause you to say things you wish you hadn’t. Or your first presentation of the issue may be so impassioned that your point of view gets disorganized, mangled, and lost in the torrent of words and feelings that come out. In that case, the real issue may never surface and no negotiation or understanding can proceed. The more important the issue, the more care that has to be taken with its presentation.

As always, for the other pages of the chapter and the rest of the book, order here!