This is hard

“I don’t care what anyone says this is hard. Handling response cards with add on RSVPs is so difficult.”  I could feel the bride’s frustration through her smile. The challenge of having a limited budget and guests that didn’t seem to respect that was weighing on her.  “I hear that.” I said.  “You may need to make some personal phone calls to those guests.  An email or text won’t do.” I was about to share some tips for making the conversation smoother, when she said, “No amount of advice will make these conversations easier.”  I nodded in agreement and continued to listen.

Weddings can be a web of emotions, expectations, and raw feelings. Tricky to navigate for sure.  While a bride can’t avoid every hard conversation,   there are ways to have the hard conversations and maintain your sanity, keep your budget from running out of control and affirming the people who want to attend.

In fact, Iyanla Vanzant shares these 7 ways to have difficult conversations.  Be strong.  You’ve got this!

1. Acknowledge the fact that you need to have a hard conversation.

2. Clarify your expectations. Be clear with yourself about what your experience should be—and the intention should not be to get your point across or declare who is right. “It’s not to have your toxic dump,” Iyanla says. “It is to heal, grow or expand the relationship.”

3. Invite the other person to have a conversation with you. “Say, ‘There are some things going on I want to share with you. I’d like to have this conversation,'” Iyanla says. “If they say no, don’t take it personally. Say, ‘Can I check back with you in a week? When will you be ready? Because this is important.'”

4. Set the ground rules—especially if you think there’s potential for upset. “Say, ‘I want to share something with you. I ask you to just listen, and then if you want to respond, I’ll listen,'” Iyanla says. “Let’s not call names, let’s not swear, throw things, whatever. No name-calling, whatever your ground rules might be.”

5. You have to be willing to listen. One of the biggest mistakes Iyanla says you can make is rehearsing the conversation in your head before and bringing preconceptions with you. Instead, get on the same side of the table as the other person and just sit with them. Hear what they need to say and be willing to say what you need to.

6. Be willing to be wrong. “Be willing to be wrong about what you thought they would say, what you thought they would do, how you thought they would respond, what you thought was going on,” Iyanla says. (I’ll add here that you’ll need to be prepared for “Aunt Susie” or your best friend from elementary school to not come to your wedding because you won’t meet all of her demands.)

7. Agree on the next step. “At the end of the conversation, be sure you have the next steps for how you’re going to behave, what the expectation is, what the next step will be, what you’re expecting,” she says. “Don’t just leave a conversation without clarity about ‘okay, now what are we doing?'”

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