Our friendships are so valuable. Friendship has lot to do with how happy we are and plays a big role in how we feel about ourselves each and every day. You’ve likely had a less than desirable conversation with a good friend, that left you thinking, “Well, THAT did not go as planned!” My guess is that this conversation left you feeling upset and anxious for the rest of the day, right?
The status of our friendships has a lot to do with how we feel every day. Oftentimes, to maintain healthy relationships, you need to express yourself in the right way and this can be challenging. You may have something to say, in order to bring about positive change in the relationship, but how do you say it without hurting the other person’s feelings? Surely, you’ve heard the old saying “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” This really rings true when it comes to struggles within relationships and the way you express yourself in order to bring about positive change….you should be authentic and express yourself, but in the right way.
Express Your Feelings – Don’t Blame
Don’t place blame or point fingers when you express yourself. This will put your friend on the defensive, and the conversation could take a turn for the worse. Instead of putting blame on others, express yourself by explaining your feelings. Instead of saying “you did this or you did that” you could say, “This situation made me feel __________.” This gives your friend the chance to say that’s not what they intended, and you will reach resolution much more quickly without putting them on the defensive.
Make Requests Instead Of Demands
If you’re having struggles with relationships and you want to foster positive change, try to request change rather than demand change. For example, if you’re feeling your partner hasn’t been very appreciative of you, it’s easy to say “You need to appreciate me and everything I do!” A better way of saying the same thing would be “You know, I’ve been feeling a little underappreciated lately and I’m hoping you can help me with this.” You’re much more likely to get a sympathetic response if you can replace demands with requests in your conversations.
Of course, you can’t always avoid conflict in your life. At times, with friends, or family, unfortunate situations come up and conversations can become heated. Of course, it’s best to not react in a heated situation and say something you might later regret. Your best bet is to recommend to your friend that you both take time to “cool off” and come back to discuss after your emotions have subsided. If you take the time to think about what you need to say and how you can say it without heightened emotions, you’ll have a much better result.
Express Yourself In Person
If the content of your message is important to furthering the relationship, it should probably be said in person. Have you ever incorrectly read intent into a text or email? Surely you have. Many times messages delivered via text or email can be interpreted differently than the writer intended. For instance, if you type in all caps, the reader will interpret that you are shouting at them, even if that was not your intent. If someone hears your tone of voice, and can read your facial expressions, it’s much less likely that your message could be misinterpreted.
The important thing to keep in mind is always be authentic, say what you need to say, but say it in a way that does not cause your friend or partner to become defensive or react negatively. If you can express your feelings rather than place blame, make requests rather than demands and resolve conflict with a cool head, you’ll find your path to a happy, healthy relationship is a smooth one.