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11 Brilliant Phrases To Say When You’re In A Super Uncomfortable Situation

We’ve all experienced a relationship gone wrong, whether with a life-long friend, an intimate relationship, a beloved spouse, a respected co-worker, or a trusted family member. When you want to fix the relationship and be close again, you must share your wish to reconnect. You might call, email, or text saying one of these thoughts.

To help get you started, I’m sharing some conversation starters and templates.

Here are 11 conversation templates for when you don’t know what to say:

1. When you don’t see eye to eye.

You can try using this. “I’m sorry we’re not seeing _____________ in the same way. I truly want to stay connected. Could we meet or talk this week by phone, or might I come there or you come here and connect over coffee?”

2. When you respond poorly.

“Dear _______, I know I responded poorly when we talked about ______. I understand you’re feeling hurt (angry, frustrated) and I want you to know I am sorry. I would so like to talk (by phone, at each other’s place, or a coffee shop) and share feelings so we can go back to the warm friendship we’ve had for so long.”

3. When a friend criticizes your situation.

A friend criticized how I managed my shared living situation. I listened to her and read her emails until I noticed I was avoiding contact with her. The next time I saw her, I told her, “Please don’t talk to me about ________.”

She agreed and followed with an email requesting that we don’t discuss a subject she didn’t want to hear about from me. She ended with “Trucefully…” and now we can connect on any other topics We are both able to be clear and open while maintaining our boundaries.

When you are at a stalemate because you view situations differently, speak up, though do so softly and kindly, not belligerently.

she is so irritated

Photo: fizkes via Shutterstock

4. When your needs are not being met.

The most helpful thing to remember is they are doing the best they know how to try to meet their needs. There’s no reason to take personally what they said or did.  That doesn’t mean we need to keep quiet. We also get to do what we believe will meet our needs.

When I was dating someone, he kept himself very busy while still wanting to have an intimate relationship. I told him I didn’t feel very special when it was hard for him to find time to get together. We remain friends, but I do not want to compromise on what is important to me in a committed romantic partner.

5. When you know you can’t keep calm.

This is best when you know you can’t talk without accusation and blame. Two housemates of mine, after yelling at each other for perceived wrongs, didn’t interact for a couple of months.

Recently, one of them saw the other’s need to move some heavy things and pitched in. Sometimes it takes more time than you wish to communicate again. If it’s hard to break the silence, keep open to a situation where it feels natural to reconnect.

6. When your conflict is over religion or politics & nobody is willing to change.

Since we all have the right to our beliefs (and since my efforts to change my own siblings’ minds haven’t worked — ha!), I either grit my teeth (not useful) or give them the same tolerance or acceptance I’d like from them. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “Let’s not go there,” if someone brings up topics I don’t care to discuss.

7. When you have tried many ways over the years to seek resolution.

If you can maintain inner peace, it’s OK to keep reaching out every month or year. Perhaps try saying:

“I’m thinking of you and hoping you will accept my invitation to connect. We can talk about whatever feels good and avoid whatever we don’t want to talk about. Would you join me at _______ for coffee (or lunch) on the ___ or the ___? Please call ________. I do want to see you.”

If you get upset when you think of that person and know you’ve truly tried to reconnect, it’s OK to say something like:

“I’d like to feel peaceful when I think about you, and because I haven’t heard from you for so long, I only feel sad (hurt, disappointed). I would like to talk. I’m at _________, and (not “but”) if I don’t hear from you, I will leave it in your hands to contact me if and when you would like to.”

8. When it might take many patient efforts to fix a relationship that’s gone wrong.

As important as anything is knowing and believing you are (or are not) willing to do whatever it takes to restore trust and mutual positive effort. If you are not willing, know your limits and trust your boundaries. If you are willing, visualize how you want to see your relationship and hold that vision with patience and understanding.

Remember, if the loving relationship you want back is likely to happen, you will still need to negotiate. Make agreements to peacefully stop words or actions that either of you find objectionable. Try:

“Not now,” “Let’s not,” or “Let’s try another subject.”

a difficult conversation

Photo: Odua Images via Shutterstock

9. When money or intimacy is an issue.

For most concerns, another option might be writing notes. Maybe say something like:

“I want us to be as close as we used to be. Right now, I feel vulnerable and need to know you can hear me, and I can hear you.”

Say this calmly and openly:

“I am responsible for what I said and did that caused (or deepened) the rift between us. I want to be responsible for creating peace and caring with you.”

Be transparent and say things you hope they can hear and agree with.

10. When you remember to stick up for yourself.

You must stick up for yourself — not at the other’s expense but as a reminder you both did what felt like it was meeting your needs at the time.

This is not the time for “Yeah, but you…”. This is the time to try something like this, instead:

“I wish I could replay what happened. I would like to have heard your request without getting bent out of shape. I’m hoping we can hear each other now with matter-of-fact voices.

You can also set boundaries around how someone should speak to you. Try saying:

“If I say something hard to hear, would you be willing to say gently, ‘Could you say that in a more peaceful (matter-of-fact) way?’

Then ask that person:

“What works for you if I do something that doesn’t sit well with you?”

11. When you will do whatever it takes to like yourself more.

It makes sense that the more I treasure myself and appreciate who I am, the more my heart can open to treasure and appreciate others in my life. Make a list of the traits you love about yourself. Read it and add to it whenever you need a lift. Acknowledge what you bring to the world.

Then, practice noticing and appreciating what others bring to the world. It’s a good way to keep your present relationships friendly so you won’t later have to work on fixing them. If you fall, get back up. Ask for support. Trust your intentions. If you are committed to restoring closeness, choose any of these 11 practices and look forward to more love and connection.

Clarity guides us to do what we know is possible.

If you do not yet believe you want and can fix the relationship, it would be wise to take as much time as you need for inner reflection. Whether you’re going on a trip to Europe or renewing your relationship, planning is required. Just as you probably wouldn’t want to land in Paris without a place to stay and an itinerary, you will find the journey toward reconciliation more natural and workable if you have thought out a loving landing place ahead of time.

having a good chat

Photo: Ana Luzes via Shutterstock

Remember the words and actions that caused the rift, and plan how to respond if you hear blame, anger, or other undesired responses to your reaching out. Keep in mind each of you, then and now, were and are doing the best you know how at any moment to try to meet your needs. You want this person to respect your needs. So you need to understand and accept how they meet their needs. Certainly, if they tried to meet needs through force or violence, you will hopefully know that behavior will not be tolerated. If you fear the two of you can’t work it out on your own, engage a counselor.

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