Why the most intimidating talks can be so worthwhile.
– KEYS SOULCARE
For many of us, the phrase “speak up” brings to mind the need to respond to challenges and circumstances that the outside world throws our way. But voicing our needs and perspectives is a skill worth mastering in our personal circles, too. And learning to do so can not only bring us closer to what we want, but also closer to the people around us.
“Communication is key because it is the basic foundation to having what we all want and need: love,” says Sharyn Nichols, a marriage and family therapist and practitioner at California’s Institute of Modern Wisdom. “Especially in the tough conversations, communication is how we feel heard, understood, and validated. It is one of the basic ways that we have to get our needs met.”
Read on for four tough-but-worth-it convos and how to get through them with integrity and heart.
1. Asking for More at Work
Next time you’re thinking to ask for more in your career — be it money, autonomy, or anything else — ground yourself in your “whys.” Why are you ready for that next-level title? Why does flexibility empower you to work more sustainably?Why are you worthy of acknowledgment, growth, or just set up for success?
“It is so important to be an advocate for yourself,” says Nichols. “Too often, we keep quiet about the things that we need because we don’t want to upset the other person. We feel that it is the wrong time to ask or that we will get a ‘no.’ We need to stop making assumptions.”
2. Treating Your Time as Equal to Your Partner’s
Whether it’s personal time, the household chore load, or divvying childcare responsibilities, there’s never been a time that’s felt more crunched — or more apt to have this kind of chat.
“We all need to feel that our sense of self-worth is just as important as our partners,” says Nichols.
Leaning into this type of intimacy is not only productive, but also cuts down on tactics that don’t work, like mind-reading and blaming.
“Taking responsibility for your thoughts and feelings [as well as] allowing the other person to share their thoughts and feelings is the best way to be vulnerable,” says Nichols. “[It] relieves the other person from being on the defensive.”
3. Confirming Expectations (And Your Capacity to Meet Them)
We’re often conditioned to feel like we’re asking “too much” when we’re just asking for clarity — about what’s expected of us or available to us within any given relationship. (Newsflash: That’s what relationships are all about!)
“You can’t give 100% if you are feeling less-than,” says Nichols. “It is not being selfish to ask for time to focus on yourself, even if it is in conflict with someone else’s requests.”
Kick those people-pleasing habits to the curb, and step away from the misconception that saying no to things that leave zero room for you is wrong.
4. Asking a Loved One to Seek Professional Help
Being there for others is admirable. Solving other peoples’ problems is impossible. The good news? Expert help is out there — mental and physical health resources, professional guidance, therapists, and everything in between.
“It is so important to recognize your own limitations,” says Nichols. “It is a very loving thing to do for someone else [when] you take responsibility for yourself.”
Let’s not forget that empowering others to be active in their own solutions and healing is a gift, too. Go ahead, help loved ones find reputable support. Cheer them on as they make progress, but don’t own their wins for them.
What tough conversations have you had that led to more honesty and connection? Share your wisdom in the comments!