In our newly-formed business partnership, Amy and I have already learned a lot about each other and about the interpersonal dynamics of this sort of relationship. Crossing the bridge from friends to business partners has definitely been a learning experience. We have already had many occasions to implement many of the wellness and mindfulness practices we try to highlight in EnVibe Life into our own lives. In fact, Amy and I recently had to have a very difficult conversation.
As we increased our workload after launching EnVibe Life, we each had to face some circumstances where the reality of our business arrangement placed some definite frustrations on each of us. They started to boil up, and for the health of our relationship AND our business, we needed to air them out.
It’s never an easy conversation when you must tell your friend/business partner/spouse that they have made you mad. Had this not been handled appropriately. Our working relationship might not be so fun or, even worse, it might no longer exist. There were a few points that existed for this difficult conversation to not only happen, but to be a success.
When you know you have to have a difficult conversation with someone, schedule it. By putting it on the calendar, it sends a message that it’s important. Set a clear intention with your energy before you start the meeting. Your energy can be felt before you even say a word.
Make sure you start the conversation with what your final intentions of the relationship are. Such as: ” I really want this relationship to work;” “I no longer want this relationship;” or “I’m hoping after this conversation, it’s clear to me where this relationship is going.” Once you’ve established this, then you can move into the difficult topics.
Always use candor in a difficult conversation. Candor is an unreserved, honest, and sincere expression of your thoughts and emotions. Avoid being passive-aggressive, sugar-coating the situation, or sandwiching it. “Sandwiching it” = putting the bad news between two nice comments in hopes the bad wasn’t so bad. When you’re passive-aggressive, you’re just avoiding clear communication in hopes you can pass it off as joking or something other than what you really mean.
Sugaring-coating the difficult topics is not being fully honest with yourself or the other person. And when you sandwich something, the important part of the conversation gets watered down. Now, I’m also not advocating being rude or mean. Find the balance. You might even try practicing the conversation with a confidant (which might just be yourself in the mirror) before you have it with the actual person.
FOCUS ON ”I” STATEMENTS AND USE NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION
Watch that you avoid the “you” statements such as “Why are you so angry?” A better way to word this might be, “When you raise your voice, I feel you are angry with me.” The words you use are also extremely important.
The Center for Nonviolent Communication serves as a great resource to familiarize yourself with the principle of nonviolent communication at www.cnvc.org. Specific terms of nonviolent communication can also be extremely useful to review beforehand and can be found at here.
In active listening, you focus your attention on truly hearing every word the other person says instead of coming up with your rebuttal in your head the whole time. Keep your mouth zipped! Don’t speak until the other person is fully done communicating everything they need to get off their chest. Once you think they are done, actually ask them if they are done. Then, and only then, go ahead with your thoughts.
Also, if you’re not ready to elaborate on your thoughts or exactly sure of what you feel, it’s a good time to ask questions. Get the other person to elaborate--it will not only help you to understand. It will also show how much you care about what they are sharing. It’s also possible that you might need to walk away and revisit the conversation later--that’s okay too.
PLANS TO MOVE FORWARD
This is where you express your actions moving forward. Maybe you make it clear that in the future you will or won’t do something differently. Also, remember that part of moving forward sometimes includes an apology.
Through the conversation, it’s important to keep in mind that you can’t change people. People do change, but they can only change themselves because they want to, not because you want them to.
It’s also important to remember that YOU always have something to learn about YOURSELF, which is often reflected to you in another person. Honor both of you for that! And remember, the GOLDEN RULE is the most important rule of conflict, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you”.