Because of this pandemic, I feel like I am having to have more hard conversations with my teens than ever before. We are in one another’s space all of the time, there is no easy way to “take a break” from one another, remote school is energy sucking and for right now, the end still seems illusive.

One thing I do know is that hard conversations are necessary, and they actually make our relationships stronger when they are handled in a way that honors each person involved.

One of the best things I learned in coach and leadership training, and something that I use daily, is the art of finding value. Finding value is a key component to a hard conversation going well, as it opens the door to understanding and trust. When someone says something that activates me, my job is to find something of value that I can point out about what was said, how it was said or the sentiment behind it. Once I have done that, only then can I add what I would like to share. This is not about “blowing smoke” or speaking something I don’t believe…it is truly about finding something that I value, sharing it and incorporating it into the conversation as I go.

Finding value is a muscle to practice. Just like any new muscle you are developing, it takes time and practice. The more you practice, the easier they get, turning them from hard conversations into easier ones!

Start practicing finding value in everyday conversations. Here is an example:

You are having a conversation with your teen about the weekend. You want to do something a little different, like get active or have a change of scenery because it would actually be good for the whole family, and they want to stay in their room and watch YouTube, TikTok or Netflix. Instead of getting angry and lashing out, find value in what they are saying. That value could be that you appreciate how comfortable they are at home and that makes you happy. You could appreciate that they have had a lot of schoolwork this week and that it is good that they want to take care of themselves and give themselves some downtime. Then you can enroll them in what you are wanting for the family and how much you want them included.

Finding value – acknowledging or appreciating something about someone – can diffuse negative emotions and turn a hard conversation into a more productive one. The art of finding value is a game changer! When people feel seen, heard and valued, the defenses go down making a hard conversation much easier!

I am committed to supporting families to have better hard conversations. If this is something that has got your wheels turning, and you realize you could use more support with your teen, please reach out to me…we can have a conversation, and go from there.