Having the Hard Conversations
Have you ever had one of those awkward conversations with a family member? Whether it is just you or a few family members, it can seem like you are trying to have an intervention. You mean well, but sometimes it isn’t taken that way.
When loved ones get older it can be especially hard for them to keep up with the day to day. They may not bathe regularly, the house is less maintained or the finances may start to suffer. Whatever the issue is, the tough conversations are necessary and beneficial. But how can you prepare so that it goes well?
Test Their Reaction
Before you have a big intervention, try having small conversations with them to see how they react. Ask simple questions about the area of your concern such as, “How’s the house?” or “How’s the car?” This will give you an idea of how they will respond in later conversations. If they get defensive or annoyed you may have to try a different approach. Also just because they seem receptive doesn’t mean you should dive into the real issue. You will want to prepare and gather information first so that you can have an educated discussion.
Do Your Research
After you have tested the waters you should research what options you may have to deal with the issue. Find several possible solutions that you can present to them. These will be things that you discuss toward the end of the conversation. You want to give them as much of a responsibility in the action plan as possible. If you come right in with what you feel is the best option, then you may mean well, but it will feel to them that you are trying to take away their freedom.
Positive & Respectful Conversation
After you make the initial contact with them and have done some research it is time to have an in-depth, tough conversation with them. Make it as comfortable and unthreatening as possible. If you are going to have multiple people there as support make sure that you set one person as the main driver of the conversation. Several people trying to tell you what is wrong and what you should do can be overwhelming and unproductive. This will change it from feeling like a caring conversation to an interrogation.
Respecting their independence is very important. If they are not engaged or seem shut off, try to ask simple questions to get them involved such as “What do you think about this?” or “What are some things we can do to help?” If solutions don’t present themselves naturally in the conversation you can present some of the options you found in your research. Above all else, you should make sure that you care for them and are going to be there to support them no matter what.