How to Make Conversations Helpful Rather Than Harmful

Bridget Webber
Jul 31, 2019 · 3 min read

You can make sure you communicate in ways that don’t damage your relationships

Quarrels can harm your relationships, whether with friends, family, or colleagues, and the sting they leave in their wake continues long after they end.

Unlike productive communication, when you make headway and express your needs, noxious exchanges do no good.

You can’t make someone adopt your idea of a positive discussion, but you can control your behavior.

The way you act and react when conversing influences the outcome, including your emotional state.

Here’s how to make conversations helpful.

Create a goal

Often, people strive to get others to help them fulfill their needs in ways that harm the relationship.

Rather than explain what they want, including why the matter at hand’s important to them, they are defensive.

Typically, someone who doesn’t know how to ask for what they want constructively will demand, rather than request they get what they lack.

They might also accuse another person of being responsible for their dissatisfaction.

No wonder the individual on the receiving end — and we’ve all been there — becomes defensive.

Nobody enjoys being under attack.

It’s so easy to veer off course and bring up unrelated past slights that muddy the waters.

Bearing a goal in mind also prompts you to meet your aim rather than scold someone for not behaving in ways you like.

Uncover the other person’s need

They might fly into a rage, or be snappy and difficult, hoping you’ll use your psychic powers to understand exactly what they need and make everything better.

Often, you’ll have no idea what the trouble is and think they’ve lost the plot (this is how we come across when we provoke an argument).

You can calm them, and gain clarity, by asking them to explain what they need and how they want you to help.

This simple measure will nip a toxic dispute in the bud because there’s no need for anyone to be upset anymore.

You won’t always agree with the other person’s view, or feel okay about meeting their wishes, but that’s all right.

You can explain your reasons and let them know what you are willing to do.

Be patient

Likewise, if the individual you want to talk to is anxious or irritable already, you don’t want to increase their load.

Wait until the time’s right, when you are both calm before introducing a tricky subject as conversation fodder.


If they don’t slow down and perk up their ears at this point, the timings off. Wait awhile and try again.

Similarly, make sure you stop talking long enough to hear what’s said to you. Remember the adage, “you already know what you want to say, but you don’t yet know what the other person has to offer?” To gain fresh insight, you need to hold off now and then and tune in.

Walk away

If they are prickly, it’s time to walk away for now.

It’s not your job to make someone see sense. What’s more, often, you won’t be able to get through to them.

You’re only responsible for your behavior, and sometimes, leaving the room is the best course of action.

All of us can ruin conversations if we stray off track or provoke a squabble. So it’s smart to focus, listen well, and steer the conversation in the right direction.

You’ll get closer to having your needs met, and help others meet theirs, if you’re clear about what you want and stick to a goal.

Copyright © 2019 Bridget Webber. All Rights Reserved.

The Bolt-Hole

Self-improvement, stories, and poems

Bridget Webber

Written by

Independent content creator, ghostwriter, author mental health advocate, and poet.

The Bolt-Hole

Self-improvement, stories, and poems

Bridget Webber

Written by

Independent content creator, ghostwriter, author mental health advocate, and poet.

The Bolt-Hole

Self-improvement, stories, and poems

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