Four Techniques for Talking About Sensitive Subjects

Is there a problem in your relationship that feels uncomfortable to discuss?

  • Are you angry and frustrated about it, but feel guilty with the thought of bringing up those sensitive subjects?
  • When you try to talk about it, does it lead to misunderstandings, anger and feelings that you don’t care? Are agreements eventually forgotten, never to be brought up again?

Any addiction can lead to this type of communication. Simple disagreements about sex, money, home or child rearing responsibilities can also turn into sensitive subjects and go on like this for years. Not talking about it can cause you to slip into self-justified behaviors that end the relationship, while obscuring the original problem.

You may start with an apparently innocent question or statement like:

  • “I wish we could be more intimate.”
  • “I wish you would be more careful with money.”
  • “I wish we could both work, so I could spend more time with the kids.”
  • “Do you have to be so flirtatious?”

Some combination of these may have been the response:

  • “You don’t find me intimate enough for you?”
  • “Look at how much you spend.”
  • “Why can’t we be like other families?”
  • “I’m just talking. Am I now not allowed to talk to people?”

You want to open up the conversation. You want to look for options that will work for you both. You want to make a plan, follow it and make adjustments along the way. Couples do this as a way of “walking with a question” and thereby find their own answers. But first, you have to be able to talk about it.

Effective Communication Techniques

Words may be too two dimensional. Conscious mind puts words on what subconscious mind really means. This never fully expresses all that you mean.

Here are a few suggestions you may want to try:

Technique #1 - Improve Your Nonverbal Communication

Your nonverbals and the way you say something may keep another from hearing what you really mean.

For example, one common problem is nervousness. Being nervous about the conversation will come off stilted. This will make it appear that you are hiding what you really mean. They will make assumptions on their way to both irritability and judgment. They may respond to you by saying something like:

“I know you hate the way I’m raising the kids…”

A solution to that problem may be to record a video of yourself having the conversation when you are alone. Do this several times, watching the tape immediately afterward. Even if you don’t know what you are changing, the practice will help. Your subconscious mind will help you communicate more effectively what you are really trying to say.

If this doesn’t work, ask your partner to videotape your conversation together. This provides a lot of structure and will usually help right away. Watching yourselves discuss a sensitive issue adds another layer of very valuable insights. Talk about the tape in a way that asks for their help, rather than telling them what they are doing wrong.

If they refuse all of this, it may be time for counseling.

Technique #2 - Metaphors Can Help

Using a situation in another relationship type, verbally paint a picture using someone and something they are familiar with. For example:

“Sex can be like driving a car. Sometimes you want to drive quickly, other times you want to slow down and enjoy the ride. Sometimes you go straight to your destination, other times it’s fun to discover a new way to get there, maybe we even get lost for a while. It’s our car and we can drive it any way we both wish.”

Technique #3 - Pre- and Re-framing

There are many “basic truths” that couples need to discover for themselves through experience. It helps to have a few directions along the way. When a person struggles with their spending,often they are looking for validation that doesn’t really exist.

A person may purchase something to make them feel good. They may like the way the sales people and others make them feel with the purchase. Offer to work with them selling almost anything other than what they usually like to purchase. Make a game of evaluating people who purchase something. (preframe) When someone purchases something they clearly can’t afford ask what they think of them and why they think they are doing this.

Go with them the next time they go to purchase something they usually spend too much on. Ask them what they believe the sales person is thinking about them right now. (reframe)

Technique #4 - Reflecting

Another use of experience is reflecting on something you both just experienced. For example, at times a waiter or waitress may give inappropriate attention to the one you are with. They may not overtly notice leaving the two of them talking along while you are steaming.

This will happen. You are not watching you and the one you are with is. They will see things you will miss. When the waiter leaves, after the office party or after the neighborhood flirt leaves talk about it. Laugh and realize it is a form of a compliment for the relationship. They wish they could have a relationship like yours. Now defend your relationship by discussing the strategy you will take the next time anything like that happens again. Create a nonverbal sign like pulling on your left ear (The Carol Burnet sign). Then, your partner looks at you when the waiter returns allowing you to place both of your orders!

Choose the “right” time and place for all such discussions. Have fun. Make it a game. Expect success. Your love relationship is far bigger than any issue you are having. Ask, “is this a good time to discuss something?” If not, decide on a time that is.

Good eye contact and appropriate touch add subconscious support to all of your efforts!

To learn more ways to enjoy clear and open communication with your friends, family, coworkers and intimate partner, sign up risk free for the Grow in Oneness online video course.

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