I’ve just come back from nearly a month’s holiday with my family. You’ll all know that travelling in close company with other people, never mind loved ones, is a real test of the relationship. Two teenagers, 19 and 16, presents its own challenges for them as well as me.
Two weeks in and things were getting tense and some frayed edges starting to show. Over an evening meal, it kicked off. Some tears, some anger but a good degree of honest and reasonable talk. It ended in a decent place.
On the way home on the tube, I made the comment that it’s good to have that type of talk. My daughter responded that talking never does any good. Nothing changes. At the time, it was clearly too soon to tell. Certainly, she was probably referencing that some other conversations hadn’t created a change.
Fast forward a few days and it was noticeable that the talk had shifted things in the right direction. One comment given to me was that at every meal out, I was doing the “the prices are exorbitant” rant. True, true. You can take the boy out of Sheffield…….. My daughter said this was not only annoying but was stressing her out about choosing anything to eat. Ouch.
Result? I stop doing that and almost immediately it changed the vibe at meals. Sure, she was waiting for me to backslide but happily I didn’t. And I wasn’t alone. Everyone made some small changes and the overall vibe moved back to happy days. Bliss.
Their is a quote in Susan Scott’s book, Fierce Conversations, where she says, “no one conversation can change everything, yet every conversation has the potential to change some things.” The relationships we have are driven by the conversations we have. The conversations ARE the relationship. If we don’t talk, we don’t give ourselves or others the opportunity to shift. Of course, some conversations achieve nothing and there are many reasons for that – poor timing, poor execution being the most common.
But even a half good conversation can provide insight, reflection and create actions that in turn create change. Never give up on that and keep having those important conversations.