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Preparing for Tough Conversations

I have two little known secrets (outside of anyone who went to school with me) that only my closest friends are truly aware of now -- I'm shy and I hate conflict.

Given that the majority of my waking life falls into two silos - dealing with people and resolving their issues - some would see the balance between these two "inner-me's" and what the universe has put in my path giggle-worthy. So when I tell you that you CAN face those difficult dating conversations, it's not because I'm coming from some base of feminist strength known only by girls who sat at the feet of Gloria Steinam in the 1970s; it's because I've found ways to deal with these two difficult issues and be okay with them.

Difficult dating conversations can be everything from someone talking about their ex too much to telling someone who you don't necessarily dislike that you don't like them "like that."

So here are 3 tips straight from someone who is shy and avoids conflict for having those difficult dating conversations no one wants to have.

1. Write down exactly what you want to say.

Don't presume that just because you think you know what you want to say that those words will stand at the ready when your opportunity arises. Set aside time to yourself and write down exactly what you want to say. You can also play out the entire conversation like a dialogue, writing down your statements and the other person's anticipated reactions. If you're stuck, one tactic you can try is this - imagine yourself being a person who was seeing you, and write down what you would want to hear from them if they brought a difficult subject up. This gets into "treat others as you want to be treated" territory. Always a good place to start.

2. Practice delivering this message over and over and over again.

Call your best friend and have them listen to what you've written down. Talk to yourself in the mirror. Repetition gives us comfort with words. Take a week if you have to, but take the time to get the message right. Practice, practice, practice!

3. Repeat this to yourself until you believe it: "I am not responsible for anyone's reactions but my own."

This is your "difficult conversation mantra." The only thing that you truly have control of in any given situation is how YOU react - not anyone else. If you focus so much on how the other person may react or what they may do, you will lose your nerve. You have to put yourself in the driver's seat on this one. If they throw you for a loop with a reaction you weren't anticipating, take a breath, but don't lose your composure.

Conflict in any space can cause us a lot of worry and gray hair, but ultimately, the worry is wasted energy. Wouldn't you rather expend energy on things that inspire you and bring you joy? Start with that as the basis for "why you're having this conversation," and move forward.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Christine Wilcox. All rights reserved.
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