If you are anything like me, sometimes it’s hard to have difficult conversations because you feel like you do not have the dialogue to make them productive. There are a few important phrases that aide the productivity of your conversations and help the people involved have a productive and meaningful conversation. Using these phrases really provides new perspective and challenges you and the people involved to have difficult conversations. It’s important to have difficult conversations. Here are a few phrases that you can use more often in those conversations.
1) “I’m not sure that I understand what you mean. Can you explain this in a different way?”
This is definitely one of the important phrases that is impactful. There are two main parts. First, if you are not understanding what someone is explaining, it is important to let them know. The most important part of any conversation is listening. This phrase is letting the other person know that you are listening to them and you are trying to understand exactly what they are trying to tell you. Listening makes the other person know that they are being heard. And just to clarify, listening does not mean waiting for your turn to talk. Some of the best conversations occur when you listen. After the person explains something to you, reiterate it and ask them if this is what they are trying to say. Let’s be on the same level. Let’s listen.
2) ” I was wrong about this. I have changed my mind on it”
It’s okay to be wrong. It is honorable and productive to admit that you were wrong. Not to be cheesy, but no one is perfect and it is not attractive to pretend to be anywhere near perfect. Progress happens through research and understanding. I think there is a huge misconception that people who admit they were wrong are hypocrites. This is not the case in the slightest. Hypocrites try to defend their previous view while adapting to their new view. Lay out your wrongs on the table. Let people know that you were wrong. Let them know that you changed your mind. It’s okay. And, if someone says this to you, give them grace. They are doing their research. High-five them for it. Let’s move forward.
3) ” I need to do more research before discussing this topic”
Think, then speak. You do not need to know everything. But, you do need to educate yourself on a topic before involving yourself in that discussion. It’s okay to admit that you don’t have an opinion yet because you have not done the research to form your own. Ask questions during this time. Listen to what others have to say. Do your own research. You do not need to form an opinion right away. Once you have done your own research to form an opinion, then proceed to join the conversation. Listen, research, reflect, THEN join.
4) “I’m sorry for hurting you. I understand now why it was wrong of me.”
An apology with no expectation of a response. This is one of the important phrases that lets someone know that you are genuinely sorry. Apologies tend to become disguises of blame. What I mean is that “I’m sorry that your hurt” does not mean that you are sorry that you’ve hurt them. Instead, it puts the feeling of hurt as the other person’s problem and not yours. This on of the best important phrases because it is an apology that expresses that you also understand why your actions were wrong. In other words, you say that you know why your actions were wrong and you will not do them again. Part of apologizing is not expecting a response in return. Say your bit. Give the other person grace to respond how they need.
5) “I want to do better. Please give me space to grow.”
If you are feeling like the other person in your conversation is not giving you the space you need to grow, then this is one of the best important phrases to learn. This tells the other person that you are trying to do the best you can to have a productive conversation. If you feel like you a re not given the space that you need, ask for space. Let people know why you are struggling. Let people know what you need from them to make process in conversation. This lets the person know to hop-off in a productive (and not offensive) way.
6) “I’m struggling. I need some help.”
Please struggle. Struggling leads to growth. Use other people’s strengths to grow your own weaknesses. Let others help you and ask for it when you need it. This is one of the most powerful important phrases you could have. It is brave to ask for help. It is not brave to struggle alone. People need other people to thrive. Listen and learn from others to pull yourself out of your struggles.
7) “I have reflected a lot on this. I forgive you.”
Forgiveness is freedom. You have the power to free yourself from negative energy that weighs on you. Forgiveness is not for the person you are forgiving… forgiveness is for yourself. Saying this important phrase out-loud is important and necessary.
8) “Thank you for sharing that with me. Your trust means a lot to me.”
This is one of the most important phrases to say to someone after they have shared something meaningful or difficult to them. Let them know that you validate that you were listening to their words. Instead of telling someone that you “totally know how they feel” or respond with your own experiences, respond in validation. Everyone has unique and different life experiences. No one will know exactly how another feels. Instead of trying to relate to them, let the person know that they have been heard. This is comforting and validating to hear after sharing difficult conversation. If the person asks for your life experience to help them, then share it. If not, don’t make the conversation about yourself.
9) “I need space to think. I will let you know when I am ready to talk.”
If you need space, take it. You have the power to give yourself the space you need. If you are not ready to have a difficult conversation, this is one of the best important phrases to use. This phrase is only effective; however, if you follow through when you are ready to engage in conversation. Think of this like hitting the pause button. Use the paused conversation to research, reflect, and refresh your emotions. You are promising that you will tell the person when you are ready to discuss. Make sure this conversation HAPPENS after you use this phrase. Then, you have control in initiating the conversation.
10) “When you said/did this I was really affected. Can we talk about it?”
If you were hurt by someone please do not ignore it. Let them know that you were affected by it. Initiate the difficult discussion. The discussion will be maybe awkward and difficult for the moment, but it will make you both feel better. Please give grace. Listen. Respond with how you feel. Forgive. Give space. Give grace. We’re all humans.
Give these important phrases a try next time you have a difficult conversation. Let us know in the comments how they helped you in those conversations.
Featured image source: http://www.tippy.fr/article/escales-iodees-etretat/
Julia grew up in a town just outside of Chicago. She currently lives in Memphis, Tennessee where she is a junior Creative Writing and Literature major at Rhodes College. Julia prefers to spend her days outside writing stories for others to find joy in. Other than story-telling, you will find Julia running on her college track and field team and traveling the world.