An Effective Conversation:

"have something I'd like to talk with you about. It's a sensitive topic for me - about an 8 on a 1-10 scale and it will take about 20 minutes to discuss."

"Well, as I check in, I'm only about 80% present right now and I notice I feel defensive about hearing any criticism about me. Does this issue involve expressing any difficult feelings about something I've done? If so, I'd rather wait until I'm more present to really here you."

"You might feel criticized - I'm not sure. I feel really impatient, however, and just want to get this off my chest."

"I hear how impatient this feels to you and I'm sorry I'm not more present for your feelings. What I could do right now is simply hear all you have to say without saying anything in return, and if I have a reactive response, wait until you are in a good space to hear it. Or you could send me an e-mail and I'd respond to it when I'm ready. Would either of these options work for you?"

"Sending you an e-mail would work OK. Let me do that now:

"Dear Fred,

"I'm writing because I am really angry and scared. While not as intense as I can ever remember, I feel unusually brittle - like I could just snap over nothing. There is a tightness in my throat, my low back and knee that has been getting worse as my feelings grow.

"I find myself really angry at the inequities I am observing in our interactions today. You interrupted me three times, yet got upset when I interrupted you.

"You seemed upset when I said "no" to your request that I come over and visit, yet you decline invitations to visit me at my house three times as often as I say no. It seems to me that when I take care of my self you feel I'm doing something wrong to deliberately hurt you. And I'm scared that I'll buy into that and not take care of my self.

"I want to know if you can understand this e-mail, and if not what parts of it you don't understand. Are you willing to write a detailed response sharing what does and does not make sense to you?" 

"More than that, I request an apology for the unbalance that has developed. Are you able to give me one?" And I'd like to know when you are ready to talk verbally about all of this so we can discuss changes that could allow me to feel safer in this relationship. Will you let me know when you are ready to talk about this? I would like to do so before we spend more time together. Right now I will be taking some space."

"Much love,


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