Tough Conversations

I just had a really great conversation with a man about some of the issues that we are all contending with today. We talked of the racial divisions. He was a black man with pink in his hair, locks pulled back, tattoos all over his body and from initial impressions would not be someone that others would consider to be well off. I actually found him to be extremely articulate, engaging, and very matter of fact. It was kind of refreshing consider all the people that I encounter who are either walking on eggshells or being so politically correct that they don’t say what they truly feel.

We spoke of people who were wrongly convicted and the tough situations they face daily. We also spoke of part of the problems with organized religion and how so many “Christians” like to say they believe but their actions fail to reflect their faith. It was about a twenty minute conversation but we both felt more informed and even hopeful that there are people willing to see the world through eyes of peace. It was through our conversation that it made me understand that there are many tough conversations that we are all having to face.

The media has been playing a very dominant role in many of these discussions. They’ve instilled a tremendous amount of fear with COVID-19 and made it to where people are either in complete agreement about the virus of its dangers or think it’s nothing more than a common cold. While I know people who have died from the virus, arguing with those who are not willing to see a different viewpoint is like trying to argue with a brick. And when you can get a better response from the brick, well, that should tell you something.

Racial injustice is another tough conversation that the world is having to deal with. There’s a lot of anger on both sides. Does it make it any easier when violence is continuously occurring? Nope. Nor does it make it easier when police officers who abuse their power do things just because they can. How do we draw the line? Not every cop is bad or dirty. Not every person on this earth in power is a bad person but so many have power and abuse it. Does that mean that we take away power from everyone? Do we level the playing field? If so, how do those who continuously use the law for violence and terrorist attacks get prosecuted? There has to be conversations as to how to weed out the law enforcement folks who are corrupt. That’s not going to be an easy conversation. In fact, there will be numerous conversations as to how to keep what happened to George Floyd and many others from happening again. We have to stop turning a blind eye to what’s happened in the past.

On the flip side, we also have to respect the past. If we don’t respect what happened, then we are doomed to repeat it. By respect, I don’t mean agree with it. I do mean that if we take away all the names, the statues, and everything associated with the past, we are less likely to remember our roots. All the acts of vandalism are showing that respect isn’t there. Look, I personally don’t agree with the confederate statues but at the same token, I also don’t agree that vandalizing them is going to stop racial injustice. If anything, it’s egging more anger on. So what’s the solution? I’m open to conversations about it. My question is why are so many things are occurring at the exact same time? Don’t you think it’s strange how COVID-19, the death of George Floyd, the vandalism, and so many restrictions are being placed upon all of us at such a volatile time? What’s behind all of this? Is there something happening in our government that is being swept under the rug? It’s almost like the PURGE movies are becoming a reality.

Then there are discussions about education for the kids. Parents want their kids back in school because it’s tough to keep children at home, while trying to work, and home school the kids too. There are families who were already doing this but a majority of Americans had to change their lifestyles when the laws required everyone to stay home. Talk about an adjustment period. Churches closed and had to hold Livestream services with a skeletal crew there. Families weren’t allowed to visit loved ones in nursing homes and assisted living. As the restrictions are being lifted, conversations are being held about various topics that affect so many of us. The hard part is being willing to listen to others viewpoints especially when we all feel passionate about our own opinions.

I have a very good friend who has been involved with a man for a very long time. (No it is not me.) Her friend has a very serious drug problem. They’ve been on and off as friends and friends with benefits for a very long time. He affects her unlike anyone else. She calls me crying because he’s cut her out of his life. Now, keep in mind, they have been giving each other whiplash emotionally for years. Both are toxic partners. He is her drug and she doesn’t know how to give him up. Even after he told her he never had feelings for her the way she did, she still wants him. She refuses to deal with the conversations that have been had. When a person gets this way, it’s really difficult to talk to them. She loves to tell people they are right but she can’t bring herself to change the behavior. This is where tough conversations have to come in play.

There’s a number of ways to handle tough conversations. I’ve done some research online and found several different sources but most of the ones I’ve found have all indicated some of the same techniques. Be open to conversations. Listening is a key component that is crucial to helping figure out some of the conversations. It’s okay if nothing gets said for a bit. Sometimes silence can be more of a tell than actual words. Figure out where to begin in a conversation with a direct approach. The more you tip toe around a topic, the more you will exasperate others. Just remember to breathe and stay calm. When we allow ourselves to get agitated, none of us think clearly. Just because others are inciting hate doesn’t mean we have to feed the hatred. Focus on the topic that needs to be addressed and talk about it in a safe space. You aren’t alone. There are many who are dealing with the uncertainty of how to handle tough conversations as well. Hang in there. Feel free to research some of the best ways to handle tough conversations but here are some of the reference sites I found.

https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/business/trends-and-insights/articles/top-ten-tips-for-handling-the-difficult-conversation/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/talking-apes/201910/how-handle-difficult-conversations

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2017/07/17/14-ways-to-approach-conflict-and-difficult-conversations-at-work/#405cf51f3cfd

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