Check in with yourself. It's incredibly important to be in the right state of mind before expressing yourself. Whatever the feeling, take a moment to make sure you are capable of having a conversation without becoming overwhelmed by your emotions.
Calm down. If you feel on edge, find a way to relax. Grab a glass of water, go for a short walk, listen to calming music, do what is calming. Taking a moment to calm down also gives you time to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. The last thing you want to do is say something that you will later regret.
Use "I" statements. When you express yourself, use statements that start with "I". Even if you are mad at something the other person did, you can express yourself by saying, "I am feeling mad by what happened." It's less confrontational than "You made me angry." You are still sharing your feeling, and utilizing a less confrontational technique will allow for a more open dialogue.
Timing is everything. Maybe you've read up to this point and checked all three tips off the list. You're feeling ready to have that conversation. It might not matter, if the other person isn't ready. Ask if it's okay to talk. If it isn't, try to find an agreeable time. Even if you want talk right now, recognize that the conversation might be more harmful than helpful if both people aren't mentally prepared.
Location, location, location. Just like in real estate, location is everything. Reflect on past conversations. If you believe the conversation will be difficult, find a setting that is comfortable for both participants. Some people prefer a quiet room, a public place, or a certain time of day. A comfortable environment decreases anxiety which increases listening and message absorption.
You've probably noticed these tips focus on things to consider before you initiate a conversation. The next post will focus on what to do during the conversation.
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Salmaan Toor is a licensed clinical psychologist practicing in Knoxville, TN. If you are interested in being notified of future posts, you can “like” The Family Center of Knoxville on facebook here or can follow me on Twitter here. Thanks for your support!