How to communicate with “difficult” family members
In dealing with relatives it is very difficult to establish personal boundaries and defend them, because you are bound by family ties. From time to time it is not easy to communicate even with close relatives. Sometimes you are simply drawn into a conflict and provoked so that you lose self-control.
If this happens in communication with acquaintances, colleagues or neighbors, you can ignore the situation, not paying attention to the opinions of people who cause you discomfort, or demand compliance with boundaries. But in the case of relatives it is not so simple. In dealing with them, you have to make sacrifices for the well-being of the family. In other words, your personal relationship with someone from your family can greatly affect the relationship in the family as a whole.
So, what to do if you find it difficult to find a common language with one of the relatives, but you are forced to communicate? Consider a few recommendations.
Don’t make excuses
If you are unreasonably accused of something, do not make excuses and do not explain your decisions. You are an adult, and you better know what is best for you. Whenever relatives question your choice, let them know.
If relatives start arguing with you, do not get involved in a conflict. Try to stay calm and firm. Remember that family disputes will not bring you anything good. Just tell your interlocutor that you do not want to argue, and explain your point of view.
Do not try to defend your position
In normal communication, it is quite acceptable to defend one’s position and explain the correctness of one’s decisions. However, when they find fault with you, this is not worth it. Whenever you try to logically explain your decisions or actions, your relatives get a new opportunity to reproach you. Therefore, in such cases, do not take a defensive position.
Do not explain your decisions
If in these situations you begin to explain your decisions, you may feel ashamed. Therefore, do not explain your decisions and just switch the conversation with a relative to another topic. This is the best way not to escalate an unhealthy atmosphere in the family.
Do not try to fix a difficult person.
Accept the interlocutor as he is (this applies not only to relatives, but also to all difficult people with whom you have to communicate). Sometimes it is tempting to help someone realize their mistake. However, this can have bad consequences for you. The more you try to do for a relative who is not happy with you, the greater will be his expectations from you. Accept the fact that it is impossible to change another person, and your relatives are what they are. Moderate your expectations for other people.
Be mindful of your reactions.
An interlocutor who is trying to provoke a conflict with you is able to drive you out of yourself in an emotional and even physical sense (for example, your heartbeat may increase or your blood pressure may rise). Try not to get into an argument – this will inevitably lead to the fact that you begin to defend yourself. You do not need to argue and defend your position – just follow your choice. If your interlocutor is trying not to find out the truth, but to win the dispute, stop this conversation.
Let the other person give their opinion
Listen to the interlocutor (of course, if your conversation has not yet gone out of control and you have not switched to a person). Give him the opportunity to express his opinion on the situation because of which you have disagreements. Why does he feel that he is being treated unfairly? What does he expect from others in this situation? The main thing is to try to maintain a neutral position. Just listen, don’t interfere, and don’t interrupt. So your interlocutor will understand that he has the right to speak out, that they listen to his words. It may take some time to learn to respect the opinions of others.
Pay attention to what causes controversy
Usually, disagreements arise due to the same issues. Try to identify them and be especially careful when these topics are raised in conversation. Your previous experience will help you avoid sharp corners. When hot topics arise in a conversation, be prepared to either discuss them openly without criticism, or avoid such topics if the atmosphere gets too hot.
Avoid certain topics.
This does not mean that you should avoid talking about important topics if you do not want to. However, if you know that some topics cause you stress or are emotionally draining and you cannot reach an understanding on this subject, you should avoid talking on such topics. Postpone the discussion until both you and your interlocutor are ready for a constructive dialogue.
Do not take disputes at your own expense
When you are accused of something or someone’s responsibility is blamed on you, it’s hard not to take it personally. And precisely because of this, disputes arise most often.