Plan your (necessary) difficult encounters

by Rod Smith

There are helpful and simple (bit not easy) ways to avoid “relationship erosion”: 

Let’s imagine you are facing a difficult meeting or discussion, from intimate to casual, formal to informal. 

Decide how you will be, not how others will be, or how you wish you could be, decide how you will be(have). This takes time before the meeting where you give deep thought to how you will be (behave) and assess how you have already behaved and how your behavior has perhaps played a role in the problems you are facing. 

If you refuse to plan and prepare, you are likely to fall into old traps and habitual reactivity which will only prove to erode your situation further. If you prepare well and you “hold onto yourself” in the meeting it is very likely you will be delighted with the results. 

As you plan, resist all balme, all finger-pointing, all rehashing the past, no matter how justified or convenient it may be to do so. 

Assess how it is that you got yourself into this situation (whatever it is) and work from there. Blame and finger-pointing results in others being defensive, an unhelpful stance when you want to build rather than destroy relationships.

Remind yourself that you are the common denominator in all of your relationships.

One Comment to “Plan your (necessary) difficult encounters”

  1. I don’t (ever) think on my feet and I get easily scattered when facing a difficult situation or person. It helps me to first write down – in great detail – what I intend to say and how I intend to say it. As I write, I tend to integrate all my thoughts in a much more organized way (and to anticipate – and prepare for – how the other will respond). Once that is done, I tend to go into the situation as a much calmer version of myself, and I tend to stay on track with my intended script. Sometimes I STILL get a bit scattered but it’s easier to gather my wits and move on through the conversation.

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