Sonya Thomas lcsw

Difficult conversations and the soft start-up

John Gottman’s research points towards what is called” the soft start-up” increasing the odds that a difficult conversation will be successful rather than derailed.  If you need to have a difficult conversation with a loved one or process conflict in your relationship, preparation is the best way to make sure it goes as well as possible.

Below are questions to ask yourself before you get into difficult conversations.  Doing some pre-conversation internal processing will lay the groundwork for a soft start-up.  Ask yourself:

  • Am I ready to have this conversation? According to Dr. Julie Gottman, “processing” means talking about the specific conflict or incident without getting mired in the emotionality of it again.
  • Am I calm enough to have this conversation? Are you able to differentiate between your own emotions and the events that occurred?
  • Am I willing to seek to understand the experiences of this event outside of my own?
  • Am I willing to speak from my experience without trying to persuade?
  • Am I willing to attune to the feelings of others and what the event meant to them?
  • Can I be fully present for this conversation (am I in a space with limited distractions)?

Until next time, peace.