Perhaps your child has household behavior that needs to change…
You have a problem to discuss with your spouse…
Or you have a disagreement with your business partner on an important subject.
There is a relationship skill called the “soft start-up” which will help you as you approach a delicate or potentially heated subject.
When you master the soft start-up, you have the ability to improve your relationships.
Relationships are built on interactions so over time, the impact of the tone you use can seriously improve or damage the relationship.
Many times when we have these hard conversations, we just plunge straight in because we are angry, hurt or otherwise emotional.
A soft start-up to a conversation requires you to have your emotions under control before the conversation begins because you will be easing the conversation gently to where you want it to go.
A soft start-up can feel a little tentative or it can be direct. It usually helps to say something to establish goodwill first.
A soft start-up never contains criticism or contempt of the other person – including sarcasm, eye rolls, exasperation or subtle put-downs. It always contains honesty.
A soft start-up also is respectful of the other person and his or her feelings.
Try a softer tone. Relaxing your eyes, heart and throat will help you do this.
Your tone may be light or even joking if this helps your partner.
In every way, you should be gentle with your words even when you are expressing a complaint.
Choose your words carefully as you begin. This is no time to use inflammatory language.
Your beginning might sound something like, “Joe, I sat on the toilet again when the seat was up and I am kind of tired of getting wet.”
Set your intention for the conversation to be positive. Examples of positive intentions are finding out what happened in a situation, speaking from your heart or strengthening your relationship.
When you are able to approach a hard conversation in a gentle way, you are much more likely to get an actual positive result from the discussion.
Research has shown that conversations invariably end on the same note or tone on which they began…
…so for the sake of your relationships, practice starting softly.