You’d think that as a trained mediator, coach and facilitator I’d not have any difficulty discussing difficult issues with anyone.

But no – I’ve been putting off an important conversation for months…   I’ve been gradually retreating from the relationship, hiding away or escaping to try to cope with my frustration.  And why?

There were several factors which prolonged my silence:

  • Not knowing how to start or how to say what I needed to say…
  • Not finding the “ideal” moment…
  • Not wanting to hurt the other person…
  • Not feeling that my needs were as important as the other person’s needs…
  • Not wanting to make the situation worse…

But, today I did it.  I opened up the conversation – and now, as I’m typing this, I feel huge relief.  My migraine has gone, I feel lighter, the other person now appreciates my perspective – and I understand theirs – and we have come to a number of agreements that will mean both our needs will be met, going forward.

What precipitated me raising the issue was the happy coincidence of a few conversations last night and today about conflict, and the reluctance of people, or their inability, to communicate about issues in the conflict. My advice was to explore couples counselling; and in the other case to find out about mediation – but in both cases to talk to the other person first – before bringing in a third party.

So, today I resolved to do just that myself – and I seized the moment…

  • I didn’t have a plan for what to say; I opened by expressing my concern that our relationship had become strained; the other person agreed;
  • the moment was ideal in that we were alone – that is all that was needed;
  • I was conscious of saying things in a way that were honest, respectful and sensitive and checking in with the other person how they felt about the issue, what their needs were;
  • I expressed things in terms of my own needs, and explained how the behaviour of the other person had prevented me from meeting particular needs;
  • I realised that the situation could not get much worse, and I knew in my heart of hearts – from past professional experience – that to clear the air could only help.

As a mediator facing up to your own vulnerability is a valuable thing – after all, we are asking people to take action to resolve a conflict that has grown huge in their minds also.

And it’s strengthened my resolve to do more to raise awareness about the value of mediation in bringing people together to resolve disputes, and providing free resources that will help people tackle these difficult conversations.

Click below to download my free guide – Tackling Tricky Topics.