How to have a difficult conversation with a close friend

Since the Me Time Movement was born in 2010 (you can watch me talk about this in my welcome message video from TEDxFremontEastWomen 2012), I’ve found myself in various situations where women confess their frustrations of working really hard, only to feel like they are neglecting themselves and those they love, but aren’t sure how to jump out of the rat race and still keep up with all their dreams.

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We’ve all been there.  You’re probably there right now.  And it’s sooooo exhausting. I know because I was there too for many years.

Last week, as I made my way on the airplane and to my seat for the flight to Pasco, WA to see my fam, I had another one of these moments.

A beautiful, tall athletic woman plopped down next to me.  Made eye contact and said hello.

I knew right away she was a go-getter. Friendly, confident and someone who is out to transform the world with her big dreams.

Exactly my type of client because I know her dreams and struggles – I am her!

Sure enough, before we realized we were at 10,000 feet, we were deep into a conversation about her Busy Bold life- owner of two boutiques, extreme sports junkie, working on another business venture and girlfriend to a guy who wants more time with her.

As soon as I told her I help Busy Bold women create a lifestyle where they can continue to be busy and make big moves in the world without feeling busy and still taking time for themselves, she went quiet.

When a friendship becomes unfulfilling

She looked me deep in the eyes and said, “okay, I’ve got something for you…”

Her issue is that she has a friend who has been around for a really, really long time.
They grew up together.
Have always been bosom buddies.

The problem?

She actually doesn’t like being around this friend at all.
She cringes when she is around.
She can’t get a word in edgewise because her friend doesn’t stop flapping her mouth.

As someone who is SO passionate about empowering women to ONLY do what they really, really want to do, I instantly went into coach mode.

I open my hands to let them fly. I have set myself free. Machu Picchu picture.

Here’s how I suggested she have the difficult conversation with her friend:

  1. Ask for permission to have a conversation.

    I suggested she invite her friend over for their usual monthly wine/dinner date, but this time, plant the seed that she’d like to chat with her about something. I provided her with this phrase: “I’d love for you to come over for our usual get-together.  Is it okay with you if we chat about something that’s been on my mind when you’re over?  It’s super important to me.  Cool with you?” This way, there are no big surprises.  Her friend knows this won’t be the usual shindig where she gets to chat the entire time.  She’s going to need to prepare to listen. And, she also gets to accept or decline the invitation since she’s being asked if it’s okay with her.

  2. Gently share what’s on your mind AND your wishes.

    I suggested she first figure out what she wants from their relationship.  Does she still want to be friends with this gal? Or, does it feel better to let their friendship go.  At the time, it seemed like she wanted to stay friends with her, so here’s the general conversation template I gave: “Thanks so much for coming over tonight. I really, really value our friendship which is why I wanted to talk about how I’ve been feeling.  This is really hard to share with you.  The truth is our friendship hasn’t been feeling good to me.  It’s really hard for me to connect with you when you talk about people I don’t know.  When you leave, I’m really tired from listening since you do nearly all the talking.  Would you be open to talking less and listening more about things going on in my life?

  3. Listen to the response.

    Openly listen to whatever the friend has to say in return.  If could be ugly. It could be defensive.  Or, it could be a beautiful exchange of heartfelt emotions. Whatever it is, welcome her response with open arms.  Just listen.

  4. Let go of feeling responsible for the other person’s emotions.

    This one was the kicker for my newfound airplane friend.  She was so worried about her friend being left alone; not having anyone to be there for her since she didn’t have a boyfriend or other friends.  What I told this Busy Bold woman is that she isn’t responsible for how her friend reacts.  She can’t be.  All she can do is show extreme compassion for how her friend feels, while also standing firm in her own needs.  If her friend didn’t want to talk to her ever again, it’s probably for the best.

This was really hard for her to hear.  She felt responsible.  She felt she was ALL her friend had.

Release the need to take care of your friend

The reality is that we oftentimes assign ourselves with so much responsibility for others, that as Busy Bold women, we’re left drowning in the heavy emotions of everyone else, covering up our own needs and desires.

Somehow, we feel like the hero, but really, our cape is drenched in unwanted responsibilities and relationships that aren’t feeding our soul.

I hope, like my Busy Bold travel buddy, you find my tips for having a difficult conversation with a friend useful.  And even more so, I hope you actually have the conversation.

Your Busy Bold life deserves bliss and beauty and when the people in your life don’t contribute to that, it’s time to open your hands and let them fly.  Trust me, they will be alright.

And you, gorgeous, you will find a new sense of self-worth inside you to propel you forward in creating the Busy Bold lifestyle you deserve.

Holding open hands with you,
Jess Tomlinson
Lifestyle & Wellness Coach for Busy Bold Women

Have you ever had one of these conversations?

I would love to hear from you in the comment box below.  Just login to your Facebook account.  Easy-peasy.  This is a safe place to share so let it all out! :)

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