How to Talk to Friends About Hard Topics
Last season, I talked about losing friends and finding new ones. Sadly, as we grow older, that starts to happen. We lose friends, and at some point, we will need to start making new ones because we can’t just have one. We grow apart, go off to school, move away, change jobs, or simply change priorities enough that it causes us to drift away from each other.
The point of having friends is not only to have someone to hang out with, but to also have someone be there for the hard things in life as well. When there is a death in the family, you lose a job, you’re in a car accident, or something else bad happens, these are the people you’re supposed to trust and know they care.
Sometimes our friends will say or do something that makes us uncomfortable or unhappy, whether directly to us or in front of us. It’s important to be able to have conversations about the hard topics that come up. Here are my 7 tips about how to talk to your friends about hard topics:
Be direct. As people, we like to have pleasant conversations. We tend to beat around the bush. However, we don’t get satisfaction from doing that. You should just rip the bandaid off and be direct.
Be specific. Avoid being vague about what they said or did that you didn’t like. Tell them why you didn’t like it and why it made you uncomfortable. Sometimes, they don’t realize how their actions or words affect other people, or you. You can ask them to explain it to you too, because sometimes tone and jokes can be taken the wrong way.
Plan out the conversation ahead of time. This is helpful, depending on how difficult the conversation is. You need to be perceptive about how they are feeling or doing in general. Their actions or words could be because they are going through a hard time. Plan when and where you have the conversation, what you want to say, and have a backup plan in case it isn’t a good time.
Watch your language and tone. Avoid accusing them of things, choose your words wisely, avoid using derogatory words or name calling, and talk with civility. If you come to them with the wrong tone or language, their guard will go up and they won’t listen.
Figure out what your goal is. Decide what you want to get out of this conversation, what you want them to realize, if you want them to apologize, if you would just like to get it off your chest, and how you would like them to change. Be realistic with your goals and realize that it’s their choice to change. If they do choose to change, it will take time for them to work through things and make the changes.
Listen to their questions and feedback. They may not have known how they were affecting people or something might be going on in their lives to cause them to act that way. They might also change the subject while you’re talking too. You may need to read between the lines.
Be open to asking questions. Ask if there is anything else going on, if they need help to remind them, if they need help with what is appropriate or not appropriate, and if they have trauma that they may need to talk through. It’s possible that something happened to them in the past that causes them to act or react in certain ways.
It’s important to realize that this conversation should be an indication of whether or not you should still be friends with them in the first place. They should want to listen to you and do better, but if they don’t, then maybe that is a sign that you don’t want to be friends with them or spend as much time with them anymore. It may be time to reevaluate. If you do want to continue to be friends with them, remember to be honest and direct, yet tactful. Be wise with your words and realize that your behavior doesn’t give you a free pass to be rude to them either.