Healthy Relationships: Avoiding vs. Clarifying Conversations (Part 3 of 4)

Greetings and welcome to my August blog. So for this month of August, I want you to think and describe for yourself this question: Do you want to avoid conversation or do you want to pursue clarifying conversations? When you think of your most personal relationships such as your marriage, your best friends, your family and kids, do you want to pursue them by asking and seeking ways to clarify what they said or did or do you want just to avoid it all together?

In parts one and two of this blog, I have attempted to describe briefly the experience of being an avoider and not wanting to talk or engage in conversation in your most personal relationships. To avoid creates unhealthy patterns and intentions not wanting to talk, share, engage and converse about various topics with the other person you are relating to. As you can tell, when you avoid you are saying to the other person that you fear having those conversations due to experiencing to many times hurt, criticism, accusations and blame has happened and now you just want to avoid for the sake of surviving this relationship rather than enjoying this relationship. Thus the relationship becomes stuck.

But to those of you who do want to build and engage in having a trusting and safe relationship so you can pursue clarifying conversations, you must began first with looking inside yourself and really display in your words and in your actions that you do want to demonstrate to your most personal relationship that you do value trust, safely, kindness, patience, understanding, empathy and listening so that whatever person you are relating to understands your intentions. It is easy to have clarifying conversations when two people do perceive and do feel these traits. When both people do perceive this is happening in the relationship, than having clarifying conversations can be much easier. If I gave you a $100.00 gift certificate to the Cheesecake Factory restaurant, it is easy for you to go and enjoy a free meal their because you have this certificate or card in your hand just assuring yourself your food is free. Yeah!

But if you don’t have that certificate or gift card, it is much harder and more difficult to pay that bill when it arrives. And in personal relationship in which you do not practice and participate in creating a safe and trusting culture or environment, you will have to pay for having clarifying conversations. It is easy to enjoy the food at Cheesecake Factory restaurant when it is free, and it is easy to have a clarifying conversation when trust, safety, love, respect, empathy and kindness is present.

You see, we are very sensitive and we all tend to study the motives and ways of the other person we are relating to. We study them to see how they do life and how they participate in solving life problems. So let’s say you have a best friend and the two of you decide to go to the movies or the theater to watch a play. And let’s say you value being on time and getting to these type of events early so you can take in the experience of being at the movie house or theater. You look forward to going and hooking up with your friend and enjoying this event together.

But then your friend is late. And you are waiting in the lobby and you get a text or phone call they are running late. So as a friend, you give this person that benefit of the doubt possibly concluding maybe there was a traffic accident or some unknown unpredictable event happened that they had no control over. So you wait and they show up and you walk in after the movie or play has started. The late friend apologizes for being late and thanks you for waiting on them. You display kindness and are just happy that they made it.

After this event, you go out for late coffee and dessert and you ask what happened that caused that person to be late. Your friend says to you without even blinking, “Oh nothing, I just did not calculate enough time to get here and I had trouble picking the right outfit and at the last minute I decided to go and get my nails done. Look at them, aren’t they pretty? Do you like the color?”
At this point, you feel hurt. The hurt you feel is that you assumed and had hoped they would value getting to this event on time just like you do. But now you find yourself feeling hurt as you hear their answer to why they were late. And you say to yourself, well, that hurts. But you quickly minimize the hurt, excuse the person for being late as they at least did show up, and you find yourself minimizing the hurt and did not want to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

But let’s say this close friend of yours starts to do this over and over again and you start to see and experience a pattern in which they are late all the time. It is now time to have that clarifying conversation to converse about how you are noticing a pattern of your friend being late and how this affects you. It is now that crucial time to call your friend, set up a time for a cup of coffee and you desire to have some clarifying conversations with your friend, whom you like, about them being late and how their lateness affects you.

To have that clarifying conversation, you first of all need to have that conversation with your friend about the important topics of clarifying if there is trust, safety, empathy, compassion, and kindness happening in this relationship? Before you bring up this topic of lateness, first of all make sure the foundation of the relationship is strong and firm so that as best you know, the friendship between you two is built on trust, respect, safety and compassion. You may even want to start the clarify conversation by talking about these important relationship needs first to see if both of you have the same values and do desire to match in wanting the same things.

So you might say to this friend, how is our friendship going. How would you rate and view various values such as trust, safety, empathy, respect and understanding really happening between the two of us? Can this friendship handle or stand for some honesty and what if we do confront each other when we both sense there is tension or conflict going on? Is talking and resolving conflict something that you like and value? If you can set the groundwork and the foundation where two people are wanting the same thing, than you will find that clarifying conversations will go so much more smoothly. Thanks for reading.