Easy Ways How to be Honest Without Creating Conflict

Easy Ways How to be Honest Without Creating Conflict

It’s ok to let your feelings be known, but don't let your emotions create unnecessary conflict.

When you’re juggling work, family and other responsibilities, adopting a go-with-the-flow attitude can make things easier. But the tactic may backfire: If you never stand up for yourself, you’ll never get what you need or want -- and you may end up feeling helpless.

Fortunately, there are ways you can stand up for yourself without alienating others or creating conflict. One rule, regardless of the situation: Always begin with “I” statements, such as “I feel … ” or “I’m worried about … ,” says Helene Rothschild, a marriage and family therapist in San Jose, Calif. That way, you’re taking responsibility for your feelings rather than blaming someone.

Other strategies can depend on the circumstances. Check out these common scenarios and ways to safely and effectively express your feelings. You’ll feel more confident and get what you want, while keeping your relationships intact.

The issue: Your co-worker (and friend) isn’t pulling her weight.

Solution: Be specific about your needs.

If you don’t address her slacking, your resentment will fester. Do it gently by acknowledging the positive, then saying exactly what you want her to do. For example: “It’s great that you’re working on x. I also need help with y and z. Can you do it by Friday? Thanks!” Be careful not to say “but” after the positive statement; doing so negates it, says Rothschild.


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When you’re vague (for example, by saying “I wish you’d do more”), people don’t always know what they’re doing wrong and may feel attacked. Specificity delivers the message and preserves the friendship.

The issue: Your friend is often late or cancels last minute.

Solution: Focus on your feelings.

Your friend’s behavior is disappointing, but steer clear of accusations and absolutes like “You’re always late!” says Rothschild. Instead, start with a happy truth -- you love seeing your friend -- then explain how you feel. Tell her, “I love spending time together, so I’m bummed when you’re late or cancel last minute.”

Then suggest a solution. Ask, “Can we meet when you’re not so busy? How about tomorrow at 3? Or are afternoons not good for you?” The questions help her think about her schedule and realize you aren’t just another if-there’s-time errand.

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