What is it about certain topics that makes us shy away from them or ignore them altogether?
If we do that for long enough, does that make the issue go away, or is it only getting bigger?
Some topics are very difficult to bring up in any relationship, but it is important that they are addressed. How can we find a way to talk about them without getting overwhelmed or in a huge argument?
I’ve started using this concept in my counselling sessions, and I want to present it to you today. Let me know how it sounds to you.
Approaching a conversation about “the elephant in the room” might be easier if we set the ground work.
I call it “having the conversation about the conversation”.
What I mean by this is that, if it is difficult for you or the other party involved to talk about difficult topics, you can agree on how you will address topics in the future that are hard to discuss or agree on.
Here’s an Example of how that conversation could go:
Partner A: Hi B, I am wondering if we could talk about how we’re going to deal with difficult conversations in the future?
Partner B: Sure A, what did you have in mind?
Partner A: I realise that sometimes when things get heated, you get quiet and I start blaming you for everything.
Partner B: That’s true, I guess I can’t handle confrontation that well, and it makes me retreat into myself. You do blame me for things, and I don’t think that’s fair at all.
Partner A: I’m already starting to understand where you come from better. It’s not that you don’t want to talk about “the elephant”, or that you don’t care, it’s that it makes you freeze. That makes sense. I guess I blame because otherwise it would be too hard to accept that I might have it wrong or might have made a mistake. Can you forgive me for doing that?
Partner B: thanks for understanding where I’m coming from, and thanks for the apology. But if I freeze and go quiet, then your blaming stance must also come from somewhere, right?
Partner A: That’s true, it must come from somewhere. I’ll think about it.
Partner B: shall we agree that when we talk about the proverbial “elephant”, that we take these things into account and give each other space before we freeze or blame?
Partner A: That sounds great! It feels good to have talked about how to have difficult conversations. I’m sure we’ll need to continue working on this. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say!
Sometimes we fear dire consequences when we bring up what we need in any relationship, or try to set a boundary. The fear is greater than the actual results, and it’s usually good results anyway, even if not immediately.
It is worth having difficult conversations and dealing with the “elephant in the room”. It allows you to know yourself better, and to know the people in your life better as well.
Communication is key in relationships. I hope this post made you think about your conversations and how to improve your life and relationships through dealing with the difficult topics in life.