Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Friday, October 2, 2015

How to Communicate with a Difficult Family Member

Ever wonder why you were born into your family? Why you can't seem to get along with a particular relative? Or avoid certain people because you can't see eye to eye? Do you keep attracting the same type of people into your life? Difficulties in relationships are normal. In fact, to a greater degree than we realize, conflicts and misunderstandings are meant to teach us something, if we take the time to seek out the lesson. If not, we will keep encountering the same types of people. Ever notice that? How then to deal with these difficult people in our lives so we can have more peace and less frustration?

I know what you're thinking - avoid them - that's the easy answer. As in most situations in life, the easy answer is usually not the best answer. It is easy to blame the other person or say "We just don't get along". It takes effort to get to the root cause of the difficulty and then try to find a solution. But if we want to preserve our relationships, and family relationships should be preserved, if I dare say so, we have to put some work into them. The good news is this means we are going to grow. I also believe growth is the primary reason we have difficult relationships. If we got along with everybody, we would have no need to change, right? Let me give you a recent example of a situation that happened with my mom and see if you can relate.

My mom is 86 years old and lives by herself in a big house a plane ride away out of state. After a recent incident that happened when she was getting out of the pool, I thought it might be time to have the "maybe you should consider selling the house" conversation. Now my intentions were out of pure concern for her well-being. I know what it's like to have to take care of a house all by yourself and she is 86! I tried to help her see the benefits of downsizing while she is still in relatively good health but by the tone and volume of her voice, it was clear she was not keen on the idea. Then she says she felt like I was pressuring her. Now I know I can get passionate about things, especially when it comes to people I care about so perhaps that came through and was misinterpreted. For some reason, I didn't realize it was time to disengage. The frustration level was rising because I felt she didn't understand that I was sincerely trying to help her. Let's just say the conversation was not very productive and I'm sure both of us were equally frustrated. Ever have a conversation that went like this?

Of course, we all have. So what to do about it to prevent a future recurrence? Here are 5 take-aways on how to handle difficult conversations:

1) When the other person's voice is going up, speak in an equally quiet tone to deescalate the emotion.

2) When having a "crucial conversation" be sure to keep my emotions under control even if attacked.

3) Realize no one wants to be told what to do at any age.

4) Make the suggestion and then let it drop. Don't keep giving more reasons for my side of the issue.

5) Take some time off to cool down and think things through rationally.

Life will continue to present us with challenging situations otherwise known as opportunities for growth. So when we blow it one day, remember tomorrow is a new day. Forgive yourself, forgive the other person, and take the time to understand how the situation could have been handled differently. Life is a school and we are here to learn.

Who in your circle is difficult to deal with? Do you avoid this person at all costs or simply maintain a casually cool relationship with them? How could you interact with this person differently and more lovingly? In the end, learning to love one another is what all of this is about. How can I be kind in this situation? How can I show this person love and respect?

If this post has resonated with you or has been helpful, please post a comment below and click the +1 google icon at the top. If you'd like to receive your free copy of my mini e-book entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path" enter your email address in the box to the right.

Until next time, keep looking up!