Set Up Your Conversations for Success

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You want to talk with your partner, and you want it to go well – you want to be able to actually talk about what’s on your mind, and feel good while you’re doing it.

In the previous post I shared with you some tips on what to think through before you say anything at all. Because the clearer and more prepared you are in your mind, the calmer and safer your conversation will be.

In this article I’m going to share how to take that preparation from the previous post, and let your partner know you’d like to talk together.

Essentially you’re going to talk –
before you talk.

Just like talking together about which restaurant you want to go to (remember those days?!), that conversation happens before you go to the restaurant… you talk before you go out together, so you’re both on the same page and can enjoy the meal together.

To have a healthy conversation, you’re going to talk before you talk, so you’re both on the same page. You’ll both know what to expect, you’ll both be ready, so you both feel safe, calm, and in control.


1. Get your partner’s attention

Simple but powerful: Get up and go to the room where your partner is, and look at them to see if they are available to talk to. If they look really busy, come back later!

Say their name, and if they respond, ask them if they have a moment. If they’re busy, ask for a time to come back.

And if you’re on the receiving end, greet your partner with a smile, let them know you’d love to talk, and if you’re too busy at the moment let them know a good time to come back.


2. Tell them what you appreciate about them

Remember in the last post I suggested you think about something you appreciate about your partner, related to the kind of conversation you want to have? Now’s where you’re going to share this with them.

Let them know your memory of a conversation that went well which was similar to the one you want to have now, and some details of what they did that you really appreciated. Really let them know the ways that conversation was a win for both of you, and how great they were.

This gratitude and appreciation feels good to both of you, and is a lovely way to connect and set the stage for safety and calm.


3. Tell them briefly what’s on the agenda

Last week you learned about choosing just ONE focus to talk about, and figuring out clearly how you feel about it.

Let your partner know this focus, and how you feel – as an item on the agenda, not as the discussion itself.

KEY POINT: This is
the set-up
the preparation
the heads-up

not the full actual conversation


4. Clearly request a future conversation

You’re not springing a conversation on your partner they might not be ready for. You’ve told them what’s on your mind, and now you’re going to ask them to have a conversation together, when you’re both ready and available.

Let your partner know your conversation goals (check the last post again) and discuss when and where might work. You can make a suggestion for a time and place, and see when and where your partner feels it would work best.


5. Schedule it

Then you’re going to literally make an appointment to have this conversation together. The appointment might be in five minutes, if you’re both free, or it might be in hours or days. All depends on how long you think you’ll need, when you’ll both be in the right frame of mind, and when you can meet without distractions.

Treat this with the same level of commitment and respect as you would any professional appointment. If something comes up and you truly can’t make it, let your partner know in advance, and immediately find a time to reschedule it. Get it back on the books.


Keep it safe, calm, and not surprising


Between the thinking you did to prepare, and setting it up in this talk-before-you-talk conversation, you and your partner are setting up the safest, calmest possible conversation. Neither of you will feel surprised or out of control, neither of you will feel startled, or irritated by an interruption.

Every couple has a door between them. How open is yours?

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Dr. Sarah Rattray 201910

Hi there I'm Dr Sarah Rattray

For over 30 years I've helped couples get closer and more connected by strengthening your communication. I'm known for my wise, grounded, caring energy, and for providing clear, practical steps you can take right away to improve the way you talk with each other.

Want a one-page printable guide that covers
how to have a Set-Up Conversation
before you talk?

Click Here!