Knowing IF and WHEN to Have Difficult Conversations

  • Laura Demetrician, M.S., LMFT
  • Series: August 2015, Volume 22, Issue 2

Knowing if and when to have a difficult conversation is an important skill to have in any kind of relationship and situation. These conversations, of course, occur more frequently with family members. This is because we expect and want our emotional, physical, and spiritual needs to be met in these relationships.  

Some factors determine IF we should pursue a discussion about a disagreement or emotionally charged subject. Disagreements and frustrations occur often, and not all of them need to be or should be discussed. First, it is vital to address concerns that are harmful (your loved one, yourself, others, etc.). If patterns have emerged and haven’t been addressed, this is also another indicator that a conversation is essential in maintaining the closeness of your relationship.

It is important, though, to have self-discipline in bringing up matters of disagreement. We as humans tend to err on one side or the other. We either are too quick to initiate these conversations or we tend to avoid conflict and minimize our own hurt.

Once you have decided you need to have the conversation, the next step is to determine WHEN to have the discussion. I recommend “holding it” for a short time. Ask God to give you wisdom about IF you need to have the conversation and to give you insight and kindness for the other person as well as what you may have contributed to the situation. This increases our capacity for self-control and it also safeguards our emotions from taking over if we have the conversation too quickly.

And above all else, always have love and kindness in these conversations.

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.


Compliments of Practical Family Living, Inc.

P.O. Box 1676, Appleton, WI 54912 (920) 720-8920

You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute our articles in any format provided that you credit the author, no modifications are made, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you include Practical Family Living’s web-site address ( on the copied resource.  Quotations from any article are also permitted with credit to the author and citing the web-site.  Any use of other materials on this web-site, including reproduction, modification, distribution or republication, without the prior written consent of Practical Family Living, Inc., is strictly prohibited.